Representatives of Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kissan Sangh met Minister of Environment & Forests today, 29 July 2014, on the issue of field trials of GM Crops. Minister was apprised about the concerns of Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kissan Sangh about the reported approval given to field trials of 15 GM crops by Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Minister assured the members of SJM and BKS that the decision about field trials of GM crops has been put on hold.
The delegation reminded the Minister that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in its report on GM food crops- prospects and impacts, tabled in the parliament on 9th of August, 2013 has clearly recommended the ‘stopping of all field trials under any garb’. The delegation mentioned that the Supreme court appointed ‘Technical Expert Committee’ comprising of eminent scientists from all relevant fields in their final report also had highlighted the inherent risks associated with open release of GM crops and the absolute failure of the regulatory mechanism in India and strongly recommended against any open release of GM crops including field trials until a robust regulatory mechanism is put in place.
Members told the Ministers that it is not advisable to allow GM Crops without proper scientific evaluation about the probable long term impact of GM Crops on human health and soil, as the technology, which involves introducing a ‘foreign’ gene, is dangerous because once introduced, it is irreversible. In other words, once you have a GM crop, you cannot reverse the process if you find that it is causing harm. Further, there is no scientific study to prove that GM technology does increase productivity, as is claimed by the promoters of the technology. It is also pointed out that the environmental costs might outweigh any benefits that the introduction of such a technology brings.
Delegation told the Minister that there is major issue of food security of the nation attached to this issue. In India, as in many other parts of the world, a few multinational corporations, principally Monsanto, have a virtual monopoly on the GM technology. If a country’s food production becomes overly dependent on seeds and other inputs from a handful of such companies, will it not compromise its food security?
SJM urged the Minister that the government should not rely on the biased and manipulated reports of vested interests among the industry and institute enquiries about the likely impact of GM food crops on soil, human and other species’ health to ensure that no harm is done to traditional gene pool /biodiversity of the nation, soil, food security and health of the people of India.
The Minister assured the delegation that the decision about the field trials of GM Crops has been put on hold by the government.
Dr. Ashwani Mahajan
All India Co-convener