June 19, 2019

A group of more than 1,000 farmers gathered in a village in Akola of Maharashtra to sow seeds of an unapproved, genetically modified variety of cotton, defying government regulations. The government is now investigating what was planted.

Bt cotton: 

  • Developed by: US giant Bayer-Monsanto. 

  • Working: It involves insertion of two genes viz ‘Cry1Ab’ and ‘Cry2Bc’ from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into cotton seeds. This modification codes the plant to produce protein toxic to Heliothis bollworm (pink bollworm) thus making it resistant to their attack. 

  • Release: 
    • Bt cotton remains the only GM crop allowed to be cultivated in the country. The commercial release of this hybrid was sanctioned by the government in 2002. 

    • Besides Bt cotton, the GEAC has cleared two other genetically modified crops — brinjal and mustard — but these have not received the consent of the Environment Minister.