Telangana Govt Imposes Total Ban on Herbicide Glyphosate | Daily Current Affairs 2021

Telangana Govt Imposes Total Ban on Herbicide Glyphosate

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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. 

About Glyphosate:

  • 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.

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