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BJP MPs to stay out of Monsanto tour

Saturday, 23 August 2014 - 6:45am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

After global seed giant Monsanto offered to sponsor a group of Indian parliamentarians to the US for a study tour and a visit to its headquarters, the BJP has asked its MPs not to accept any invitation for foreign tours without taking permission from the party.

The matter fell on the radar of the BJP and RSS following reports of BJP and Shiv Sena MPs heading to the US to attend a "Farm Progress Show" in Iowa and then St Louis, where the Monsanto headquarters is located.

The report sparked off an angry reaction from RSS ideologue S Gurumurthy who tweeted "shocking BJP MPs going on a fully funded tour of Monsanto to visit its headquarters".
Three hours later, he again tweeted "BJP leadership has conveyed to me that the BJP MPs told not to go on Monsanto tour. MPs told not to accept foreign tours without PM yes".

Gurumurthy is also co-convenor of RSS wing Swadeshi Jagran Manch, which had asked the government not to go ahead with field trials of 13 genetically-modified (GM) crops last month.

BJP general secretary Ram Madhav also tweeted that no BJP MP will be part of the delegation sponsored by Monsanto.

The four BJP MPs — all first-timers — among the 15 invited have told the party that they will not be going on the tour, party sources told dna. They said the BJP leadership was likely to reinforce its guidelines for parliamentarians on taking the party's sanction before accepting foreign trips.

Last month, a delegation of the RSS met environment and forest minister Prakash Javadekar, seeking a halt on field trials of 15 genetically modified crops. They put out a statement, saying the government had agreed. However, Javadekar had said later that the government will not rush into it and will hold consultations with stakeholders before taking any decision.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had given its nod for field trials of genetically-modified rice, mustard, cotton and chickpea among other crops.

The SJM had issued a statement earlier saying the approval of field trials was a betrayal of people's trust as the BJP had promised in its manifesto that GM foods will not be allowed without full scientific evaluation on the long-term effects on soil, production and biological impact on consumers.

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