The Telangana Government recently imposed a total ban on Glyphosate with immediate effect.
- The reason for the ban is that the excess use of this herbicide by farmers is causing harm to soil and human health.
- As per a notice issued by the state government, anybody violating the ban will be punished under the Insecticide Act 1968. So, manufacturers, dealers, and retailers need to be more cautious.
- The Glyphosate is a controversial herbicide usually used to kill weeds in cotton farms especially annual broadleaf weeds and grasses that compete with crops.
- Glyphosate is absorbed through foliage (plant leaves). It is minimally absorbed by roots.
- The sodium salt form of glyphosate is used to regulate plant growth and ripen specific crops.
- Glyphosate was first registered for use in the U.S. in 1974.
- It was discovered to be an herbicide by Monsanto chemist John E. Franz in 1970.
- The usage of Glyphosate is banned because it is carcinogenic.
- It is also being banned to control the illegal cultivation of HTBt cotton.
- In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified Glyphosate under Category 2A, that is, a “Probably Carcinogenic in Humans”.
Why do farmers prefer HTBt cotton?
- The farmers prefer HTBt cotton because of the following reasons:
- The cost of HTBt seeds is Rs 1,500 per 450 gram pack.
- This is higher than the Bollgard Cotton II which costs Rs 740 per 450 gram pack. However, the farmers still prefer HTBt cotton for its overall low cost of production.
- A normal cotton grower spends Rs 15,400 in rainfed land and Rs 23,500 per acre in irrigation to grow GM (Genetically Modified) cotton.
- Of this around 20% to 25% is spent in removing weeds.
- On the other hand, HTBt cotton farmers can save this expenditure on weed management.
- They can simply spray Glyphosate as it won’t affect HTBt.
- This is because; the normal cotton cannot withstand Glyphosate, while HTBt cotton can.
What is the issue?
- Around 8 to 10 lakh acres of land in Telangana are under herbicide tolerant HTBt cotton.
- These cultivations have not received proper permission for commercial use.
- The Genetic Appraisal Engineering Committee (GEAC) has not yet approved HTBt cotton.
Note: Bt crops need approval from the government for use.
- It all began in 2019 when farmers started cultivating this illegal cotton crop.
- The practice gained momentum in 2020.
- At present, around 50% of the total area under cotton is under this illegal HTBt cotton variety.
- Glyphosate leaches into food and water and causes chronic kidney diseases in humans.
- Glyphosate is also used as Crop Desiccant.
- A crop desiccant is applied to the crops just before harvest.
- The crop desiccants kill out leaves/plants allowing the plants to dry quickly and evenly from environmental conditions.