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Vehement opposition from Sangh outfits on GM crop trials puts government under pressure

Tuesday, 29 July 2014 - 9:09pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

 Two RSS linked outfits on  sought a ban on field trials of genetically-modified crops, cleared by biotech regulator GEAC, even as the government said that no decision will be taken in haste. Representatives of Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kissan Sangh met the Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on the issue of field trials of GM crops of certain varieties of rice, brinjal and cotton among others. They apprised him about their concerns while claiming that the Minister has assured them that the decision about field trials of GM crops has been "put on hold".

"The Minister assured the delegation that the decision about the field trials of GM Crops has been put on hold by the government," All-India Co-convener of the Manch Ashwani Mahajan said. When contacted, Javadekar confirmed the meeting but asserted that the government has not taken any decision on the contentious issue. He said that GEAC has taken such a decision but government has not acted upon it yet.
"Government has not taken any decision on the contentious issue. Government will not take any decision in haste," he said.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had earlier this month cleared 15 proposals for confined field trials for rice, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton. The delegation reminded the Minister that Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in its report on GM food crops - prospects and impacts, tabled in Parliament on August 9, 2013 has clearly recommended the 'stopping of all field trials under any garb'.

The Manch and Sangh members told the Minister that it is "not advisable" to allow GM Crops without proper scientific evaluation about their probable long term impact on human health and soil. They said, "the technology, which involves introducing a 'foreign' gene, is dangerous because once introduced, it is irreversible.... Once you have a GM crop, you cannot reverse the process if you find that it is causing harm." They contended that there is no scientific study to prove that GM technology does increase productivity, as is claimed by the promoters of the technology. They also pointed out that environmental costs might outweigh any benefits that the introduction of such a technology brings.

The delegation told the Minister that there is major issue of food security of the nation attached to this issue. The Manch urged the Minister that 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 and biodiversity of the nation, soil, food security and health of the people of India. The two organisations are closely associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh .




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