The state Government of Telangana recently imposed a total ban on controversial herbicide Glyphosate.

Glyphosate

  • It is a controversial herbicide usually use to kill weeds in cotton farms.
  • The usage of Glyphosate is banned because it is carcinogenic. Also, it is being banned to control the illegal cultivation of HTBt cotton.
  • It is absorbed through foliage (plant leaves). It is minimally absorbed by roots.
  • In the year 2015, WHO classified Glyphosate under Category 2A, that is, a “Probably Carcinogenic in Humans”.

Why do farmers prefer HTBt cotton?

The cost of HTBt seeds is Rupees 1500 per 450 gram pack. This is higher than the Bollgard Cotton II which costs Rupees 740 per 450 gram pack. Still farmers prefer HTBt cotton for its overall low cost of production.

A normal cotton grower spends Rupees 15,400 in rainfed land and Rupees 23,500 per acre in irrigation to grow GM (Genetically Modified) cotton. Of this around 20 per cent to 25 per cent is spent in removing weeds. On the other side, 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.

Issue

Around 8 to 10. kh acres of land in Telangana state 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.

The Glyphosate leaches into food and water and causes chronic kidney diseases in humans.

The 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.

Steps by Telangana Government

In the year 2018, the state Government had put restrictions on the sale of Glyphosate. This was done to curb the illegal use of herbicide-tolerant BT cotton. In spite of the restrictions, the usage did not stop. Again in the year 2019, the state Government increased the restrictions on usage of Glyphosate. With no outcomes to restrictions being imposed, the Telangana Government has now completely banned the herbicide.

Other States

  • In the FY 2020-21, around 35 per cent of area under cotton cultivation in Maharashtra were illegal.
  • A significant number of farmers in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat have cultivated HTBt cotton in the FY 2020-21.
  • The illegal cultivation began in the year 2019. Today more than 50 per cent of the total area of cotton under cultivation in India is HTBt.
  • Kerala has also imposed ban on Glyphosate.
  • The Glyphosate is allowed to be used in tea plantations and in non-crop areas.

Other countries

  • In 2014, Sri Lankan Government banned Glyphosate . However, the ban was lifted in the year 2018 when the tea plantation owners complained of economic losses.
  • In 2017, Argentina tried to ban it. In the year 2018, it was found out that in the areas where Glyphosate-tolerant GM Soy was cultivated birth defects increased twice and miscarriages increased thrice.

Telangana bans Glyphosate Telangana bans Glyphosate