Undue haste in introducing un-scientific, toxic and anti- bio diversity GM Mustard

Swadeshi Jagaran Manch
"Dharamakshetra, Sector-8, R.K. Puram, New Delhi
Ph. 011-26184595, Web: www.swadeshionline.in

Dated: May 23, 2017

To 
Shri. Narendra Modi
Hon’ble Prime Minister of India
South Block, Raisina Hill, New Delhi - 110011

Sub:

Undue haste in introducing un-scientific, toxic and anti- bio diversity GM Mustard

Dear Sir,

Swadeshi Jagran Manch expresses its deep anguish over recommendation made by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for approval for GM Mustard as safe and nutrient for consumption, supposedly developed by controversial Delhi University researcher, Professor Deepak Pental. In this regard we would like to bring to your kind notice that undue haste is being shown by the GEAC in giving permission to so called ‘Swadeshi GM Mustard’ with the presumption that the same would increase yield and reduce country’s edible oil import bill. We would like to emphatically state that, this presumption is based on manipulated data, false conclusions and lobbying by vested interests.

Not at all Swadeshi

To begin with, the claim that GM Mustard is Swadeshi and has been developed in India is completely untrue. We would like to bring it to your kind notice that in 2002, Proagro Seed Company (Bayer’s subsidiary), applied for commercial approval for similar construct that Prof. Pental and his team are now promoting as HT Mustard DMH 11. Bayer’s application at that point of time was turned down because the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said that their field trials did not give evidence of superior yield. As is well known the hybridisation of GM Mustard is achieved by means of the two genes barnase and barstar, derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. The bar-barstar-barnase gene is a patented technology of Bayer Crop Science. Bayer is not a swadeshi Company. How can a product patented in their name is termed as Swadeshi. The fact that Bayer owns the patent of the genes used in Prof. Pental’s Mustard has been deliberately concealed from the people of India.

Wrong Claim of higher Yield
Another aspect that we would like to highlight is the unsubstantiated and wrongly projected claim that GM mustard will increase domestic production and reduce our import dependence. The GMO mustard has no yield advantage compared to Indigenous hybrids. Data from Rapeseed Mustard Research (DRMR), Bharatpur clearly show that the claim of Prof. Deepak Pantel that his GM mustard would increase yield by 26 percent is deceptive and misleading as there are several existing hybrid varieties that outperform the transgenic variety DMH-11.In fact for reasons best known to the developer, the existence of better performing non-GM hybrids from his own stable has been concealed and he has chosen to falsify the data by comparing the yield performance of GM mustard with some of very old varieties having lesser yield. Fact of the matter is that existing non-GM verities of mustard give at least 25 percent more yield than what in claimed Prof. Pental's GM mustard.

Wrong claim of expected savings in foreign exchange requirements

We would also like to bring to your notice that the condition of royalty payment by the developer to the Bayer has also been kept a secret. Not only that GMO Mustard is based on Bayer’s patented Barnase-barstar-barnase gene system for which royalty shall be paid, it is said to promote usage of Glufosinate, an herbicide from which Bayer will benefit the most through its existing brands. Therefore it is evident beyond doubt that the nation would be seriously dependent upon MNC for usage of patents and import of herbicides causing greater outflow of valuable Foreign exchange from the country.

Insufficient data on its impact on human and animal health

In this regard we are again constrained to write that no long term or feeding tests have been conducted to ascertain the effect of GM mustard on human and animal health. We would like to bring it to your kind notice that GM crops (along with herbicides they promote) are injurious to honey bees, as has been proved world over. As you know honey bees are important not only for producing honey, but also for increasing agricultural yields. This is the reason that honey bee keepers are on the streets agitating against the proposed introduction of the GM mustard.

Another suspected disaster concealed

We would like to bring to your notice another very alarming facts that since GM mustard is engineered with a trait for resistance to BASTA. Basta is Bayers herbicide which has one ingredient called glufosinate, plus other poisons as adjuvants and surfactants. Glufosinate is a neurotoxin. No assessment of Basta residues in mustard was made. An unscientific statement has been made that the herbicide tolerant trait was used as a marker. But once the Basta resistant trait is introduced, nothing will stop Bayer from selling Basta to farmers through the herbicide resistant traits .The Multinational Corporations want to create a market for the toxic chemicals. Spreading poisons in our farming is a recipe for spreading diseases. It is suspected that use of Bayers herbicide would make the land under GM mustard cultivation and substantially adjoining area Iunfit for other crops. In this context your attention is drawn to the fact that looking at the far reaching adverse effect of glufosinate, recently several restrictions have been imposed on the same by European Union.

Why this Hurry?

As explained above, Prof. Pental’s GM Mustard is neither Swadeshi, nor high yielding as compared to Indigenous hybrids nor even good for our health, environment and bio diversity, the undue hurry being demonstrated by authorities is beyond comprehension and raises serious questions about their intentions.

It is second time that such a situation has come, when a GM food crop is being considered for approval for commercial production. Earlier it was during UPA government that such a situation was confronted with, in case of Bt. Brinjal when the then Minister of Environment, Jai Ram Ramesh allowed public hearing and permitted scrutiny of claims by making the data public and that eventually led to a moratorium on Bt. Brinjal, as scientific community was able to prove that introduction of Bt. Brinjal would be injurious to human health, bio diversity and agriculture at large.

Further we wish to bring it to your kind notice that matter is sub-judice with Hon'ble Supreme Court of India, whereby Hon'ble Chief Justice, based on the assurance given by the Attorney General that the Union of India would not release DMH 11 "without the prior approval of the Supreme Court", gave a verbal order of an interim injunction till the case is heard comprehensively. The proceedings of the case are in progress as of now.

Appeal

In the end we would like to reiterate that truth is being shielded in this matter and government is being misguided about the safety, yield and IPR (due to patented genes). Swadeshi Jagran Manch sincerely appeal to you to intervene in the matter and ensure that no permission is given to GM mustard.

Hoping for a positive response form you in the best interest of the nation.

Thanking you
Yours sincerely

Dr Ashwani Mahajan
All India Co convenor, Swadeshi Jagran Manch