Nagpur: Realizing that , the chemical used to clear weeds in farms can cause cancer, the state government has finally issued instructions restricting its sale. The order, however, only restricts the sale from dealers’ end. The manufacturers’ licence to supply the product in the state still remains intact. The state, though, has powers to cancel the licence.
The herbicide is popular among cotton growers who use the illegal herbicide tolerant (HT) seeds. The HT crop can withstand doses of glyphosate to which the conventional Bt or non-Bt cotton succumb.
Commissioner of agriculture, SP Singh, from whose end the order came, told TOI groundwork is being done to revoke the licence of the manufacturers too. Complaints have been received about its ill-effects and inputs are also being gathered from stakeholders. The commissionerate only wants to build a strong case before it issues a ban, or else cancellation of licence can be stayed by courts.
The current order calls for ensuring glyphosate sale only to the recommended areas which include tea gardens and non-cropped land. This is expected to put a large area out of reach for the dealers.
American biotech giant Monsanto is the major producer of glyphosate herbicide, which is a cheaper option as against other chemicals and manual labour. Both glyphosate and HT cotton technology are developed by Monsanto.
The order only restricts sale of glyphosate-based herbicides to farmers by dealers limiting it to only the recommended user. This means the traders have to ensure that the herbicide only goes to the recommended class of users and not the farmers in general.
The order issued this week has left the traders as well as the manufacturers confused. Apart from Monsanto, Excel Crop Care Limited is a major player in this market. Officials of both the companies whom TOI ed said they are waiting for further clarity on the issue before taking any step on stopping the sales in Maharashtra.
The commissionerate’s order has been sent down the line in the organization. It asks the district-level officials to take steps in the capacity of licencing authority against any unauthorized sale of herbicides.
The letter says use of glyphosate, which can cause cancer, needs to be urgently stopped. The department says the product should be allowed to be used only for the purposes recommended by the Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee (CIB-RC). Glyphosate is recommended only to be used in tea gardens and non-cropped areas by the CIB. Sale for purposes other than that has to be considered as violation of the norms, says the letter.
An expert said technically non-cropped area is referred to wild area where no crops have been grown. Tea gardens are out of question in Maharashtra, he pointed out.
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