The agriculture department decided to form the SIT following the furore created over the issue during the legislative session.
Mumbai: A special investigation team (SIT) has been formed to probe Monsanto and other seed giants and their roles in production, distribution and storage of genetically-inferior cotton seeds, which fell prey to crop disease.
The state government’s agriculture department decided to form the SIT following the furore created by the issue in the state legislative session in Nagpur. According to officials, the SIT team will consist of Sanjay Barve, commissioner, state intelligence department and Subhash Nagre, joint director (agriculture). Its scope will be broad and it will also look into the role of five more firms.
“This SIT will conduct a detailed probe into the role of seed companies, especially Mahyco Monsanto Bio Tech. It will also probe the role of other companies in production, stocking and sale of herbicide-tolerant transgenic Bt cotton seeds while fixing responsibilities,” said additional chief secretary (agriculture), Maharashtra, Bijay Kumar.
Cotton crop in a large area of Vidarbha, Marathwada and part of North Maharashtra was badly affected due to inferior seeds. The issue was raised during the winter session of the Maharashtra legislation. According to opposition leaders, the government was aware about the inferior quality of BT cotton seed ‘BG III’ but didn’t kept quiet due to pressure from private companies. The announcement of probe was made after these allegations.
“It has come to our notice many seed companies produced the BG-3 seeds with transgenic Glyphosate tolerant trait and sold them in the market. As many as five companies have been found guilty as per the report of the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), and it is a clear case of violations since permissions of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) was not taken,” said Mr Kumar.
Meanwhile, the opposition has demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe. “The state government has formed this SIT as the next budget session is just in two weeks. Three months have passed after we raised the issue in the house in December. This shows the speed with which this government will probe such big companies,” taunted Opposition leader Dhananjay Munde.