Commercial Production of GM Mustard

Dated: 3 Feb 2016

To
Sh. Prakash Javdekar
Minister of Environment & Forest
Govt. of India, New Delhi

Subject: Commercial Production of GM Mustard

Respected Javdekar ji.

You are well aware of the concerns of Swadeshi Jagran Manch about the GM technology in general and food crops in particular. Swadeshi Jagran Manch has repeatedly brought to your notice the concerns of people, scientific community and all other stake holders in this regard. It is well established that tall claims of corporate engaged in promotion of GM technology are unproven and on the contrary its ill effects are scientifically established. We are not going to repeat all those facts and figures here as they already are lying with the concerned authorities. To briefly sum up we may repeat that GM technology is neither increasing the yield of the crops nor is it in any way decreasing the miseries of the farming community. On the other hand it enhances serious risks to the health of consumers as well as that of the soil. It also increases the cost of cultivation manifold, while transferring the same to corporate as immoral profits.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch also wishes to point out about the miseries of Bt. Cotton farmers, after the failure of Bt. Cotton crops in many parts of the country, due to attack by white flies; whereby cotton crop of other verities faced much smaller loss. Moreover recently in another case on the question of royalty payment to Bt. Cotton seed manufacturing company Monsanto, Ministry of Agriculture has given an affidavit, stating that over the years efficacy of Bt. Cotton against pink bollworm has come down and therefore, the company should not be given royalty at a higher rate. As Bt. Cotton is cited as ‘big success story’ of GM, these developments are worth taking note of, before taking any decision on GM crops.

Swadeshi Jagran Manch expresses its deep concern over news items in some sections of the press about the scheduled meeting of GEAC under your ministry, for grant of permission to GM mustard. Reports suggest that field trial for GM mustard were conducted, some of the them even without approval from appropriate authorities and are now set to enter commercial production. It is submitted that GEAC under your Ministry has failed to make the scientific data of these claimed field trials public (by publishing the same on their website). SJM reminds you that the only application for allowing commercial production of any GM/BT variety was made in 2010 with regard to BT Brinjal. Fierce opposition of affected stake holders under the aegis of Swadeshi Jagran Manch forced the then UPA government to impose indefinite moratorium. At that point of time scientific community was able to study and analyse data provided by GEAC then.

In a democratic set up elected governments have constitutional and moral responsibility to share with public any information and data that has bearing on their health, environment, biodiversity and over all well being including that of their progenies. Moreover, you are well aware that the issue of GM crops is before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court has already given its opinion against GM crops in the country.

We express our deep concern over not placing the data regarding toxicity, allergenicity and other types of effects on the environment and humanity on the website of GEAC under your ministry. On the contrary GEAC has refused to place the data on its website and also to provide to the same through RTI replies. We would like to quote before you from the proceedings/order dated 08/04/2008 of the Hon’ble Supreme Court, which is self explanatory about the direction of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in this matter.

“In I.A.No.1 in W.P.(C) No.115/2004 and I.A.No.18 in W.P.(C) No.260/2005 the applicants have complained that the data regarding toxicity and allergenicity has not been placed in public domain by those conducting the trials, in regard to nine crops to be field tested. It is submitted that unless the toxicity and allergenicity data are made known to the public the applicants and concerned scientists in the country would not be in a position to make effective representations to the concerned authorities. Learned Addl. Solicitor General submits that as regards Bt cotton and Bt brinjal, required data has already been put on the website. He also stated that in regard to other seven crops, data is being collected and as soon as the full data is available with the GEAC, the same would be put on the website.”

Through this letter Swadeshi Jagran Manch reiterates its stated position that GM crops are not in the best interest of the humanity and environment in general and agriculture & farmers in particular.

Swadeshi Jagaran Manch therefore, reiterates its long pending demands:-

1. No permission is granted for the commercial production of GM Mustard & meeting of the GEAC for this purpose be cancelled.

2. Data emanating from field trials conducted so far, be made public so as to allow scientific analysis of the same.

Thank you

Dr. Ashwani Mahajan
National Co-Convenor