The debate and politics over genetically modified crops is set to heat up with RSS backed Swadeshi Jagran Manch hailing the prospects of Monsanto’s exit as a ‘good omen’ and announcing plans to oppose any possible go ahead for GM mustard. Lending it a hand is the Bharat Krishak Samaj’s president Krishan Bir Chaudhary who on Friday lambasted enterprises and experts for working against ‘national interest’ and ‘misleading’ the PM on the issue of GM crops.
“Why is everyone lamenting the withdrawal of application by Monsanto? It will be a good omen if Monsanto leaves India altogether. It must compensate our farmers for all the damage done so far. The truth is that Monsanto is cornered at all levels now. It has been looting farmers, misusing its dominant position and it must pay compensation to the farmers and I hope the government ensures that. For the government has been elected for protection of the people, of the farmers, not for protection for MNCs who are lying and charging unreasonable royalties,” Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch told ET.
Monsanto’s announcement this week on scrapping plans for India on a next generation cotton seeds amid escalating tensions with the Modi government has caused an upheaval in the seed industry. While seeds manufacturers and biotechnology experts have expressed alarm at the government’s recent licensing and patenting guidelines, groups ideologically close to the BJP have come out in open support. SJM is also pushing to prevent any entry to GM mustard. Mahajan said that the Supreme Court had given directions on GM crops and challenged the government to make all related documents public. “If the government goes ahead with GM Mustard, we will take it up with the environment ministry. If there is any significant change in position, we will definitely take it up strongly.
We have been asking the government, why not make all this data on GM mustard public? The claims of productivity increase are questionable. There are serious doubts about the socio-economic impact as well of this regardless of who is involved in this work — DELHI University or a MNC. Let there be complete transparency, let people decide. We are not dogmatic and opposed to it on principle. We have held meetings with GEAC also raising these questions and till date we have got no good answer,” Mahajan said on the possible go ahead to GM mustard. The environment ministry had issued a statement this week assuring it had not taken any final decision on the GM mustard issue. SJM is not the only organisation speaking up against GM technology.
The president of the Bharat Krishak Samaj, Krishna Bir Chaudhary at a panel discussion on seeds and IPR issue, lambasted enterprises and individuals, “working against national interest” and “misleading the PM'” on this issue. “The government has done a commendable job. How much more personal interest will be put ahead of the country by some people who have sold their soul? These are people who are looting the Indian people and are sold out,” Chaudhary said during a panel discussion organised by the National Seed Association of India on IPR issues on GM Traits and Seeds.