Maharashtra bans Bt cotton seeds

The Maharashtra government has banned the sale and distribution of Bt cotton seeds by a US multinational giant in the state, a top official here said Thursday.

"The government has banned the Mahyco company with immediate effect," Pune-based state Agriculture Commissioner Umakant Dangat told IANS.

The ban was effected by the Director of Inputs & Quality Control (DIQC), the licensing authority, on Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (MMB) late Wednesday. Mahyco is a Maharashtra-based partner of the Monsanto group.

MMB is a joint venture between Mahyco, Maharashtra, and Monsanto Holdings Pvt. Ltd., USA which has sub-licensed Bollgard II and Bollgard technologies to 28 Indian seed companies since 2005.

It follows a discussion in the Maharashtra legislative assembly last month and an assurance made by Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil proposing a ban.

"It is a bold move by the agriculture minister (Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil) and proves the government has not succumbed to MNC pressures," Vidarbha Jan Andola Samiti chief Kishore Tiwari told IANS from Yavatmal, eastern Maharashtra.

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