- Anil Madhav DaveMinister of Environment Forests and Climate Change, Government of India
Indian Govt: Say NO to GM Mustard!
Our kitchens are going to be filled with harmful and unnatural foods if we don’t act today.
It’s going to begin with Mustard - a regular ingredient in all Indian kitchens. The Government is gearing up to approve the cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard any day now. Soon, mustard oil and mustard seed tadka in our food could harm us. Once GM Mustard is approved, it will open the floodgates for many more GM food crops – maize, rice, jowar, wheat, brinjal, bhindi, groundnut and so on.
There is a great deal of secrecy surrounding this new mustard. The genetic modification of this mustard has been done in a way that more chemicals will be used on the crop to control weeds. This will lead to more toxins in our food and environment. Such poisons have been known to be dangerous to toddlers, for example. The harm from this GM mustard is from both the genetic modification that has been done as well as chemicals that will be used on the crop.
Very little data about tests has been made public even after a Central Information Commission order to do so. The negative impact on the environment has been suppressed and the yield has been exaggerated and unproven.
In fact, major Mustard growing states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana have said no to even experimental trials. I can’t understand why the Central Government wants to go ahead with an approval for cultivation!.
Sign my petition and show the Central Government and the new Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave that we don’t want to eat Genetically Modified (GM) mustard.
This mustard could be approved any time soon. We have very little time to make sure that this does not happen.
If the first GM food crop gets approved, many companies are ready to push for other GM food crops to be allowed too. Behind this are powerful, profit-hungry foreign companies like Monsanto and Bayer, which want to take control of India's seed system and food system.
After people rose up in protest, the permission for cultivation of Bt Brinjal was stopped. We can do this again. Sign my petition so that I can show the Government that we Indians don’t want GM mustard.
- Minister of Environment Forests and Climate Change, Government of India
Anil Madhav Dave
Shri Anil Madhav Dave,
Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change,
Government of India.
Dear Shri Dave,
Sub: Our NO to GM Mustard or other Genetically Modified Foods
Namaste! This is to draw your attention to the fact that India’s apex regulatory body for gene technology called Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), under your Ministry, is in an advanced stage of processing an application for 3 GMOs of mustard to be released for cultivation in farmers’ fields including for seed production. It is worth noting that all the 3 are herbicide tolerant GMOs, even though the application makes it appear as though herbicide tolerant genes only had a “marker” function.
However, proof of the intention of the crop developer to gain a backdoor entry for Herbicide Tolerant crops has already been presented to the regulators. The adverse impacts of herbicide tolerant crops including greater agri-chemical usage, more chemical residues in our food and environment, adverse impacts of both the GM crop and the linked chemical usage on our health and environment, entrapping of farmers in a seed and chemicals market trap, creation of super-weeds etc., are all well documented. Importantly, in a socio-economic-cultural context where millions of women in India find employment in manual de-weeding, displacing them from existing employment opportunities has huge implications for livelihoods of the poorest in India.
Meanwhile, after a special meeting convened by GEAC to listen to citizens’ representatives (scientists, farmers’ leaders, consumer activists), it became clearer that the regulatory body is limiting itself to only narrow biosafety assessment that too in an unscientific and incomplete manner.
However, there are numerous issues of concern that remain totally unresolved with this kind of regulation – what about the rights of a farmer who wishes to remain GM-Free but finds her/his crop contaminated by neighboring GM crop? What about the rights of consumers who wish to know what is in their food, have a right to informed choices and have a right to safe food? Will a labeling regime ever work in a country where most consumption is not of packaged commodities, but open? Can citizens draw any faith on such regimes when even the existing GM labeling regime for packaged commodities is a sham in the absence of its implementation? Where is a well worked out liability regime in India to address issues of penalties, redressal and remediation when things go wrong with this risky technology? Why is it that the government is ready to dabble with a hazardous unneeded technology when there are other solutions that exist which are farmer-controlled, safe, sustainable and affordable? What about natural/organic farming and the fact that transgenics and organics are incompatible in numerous ways, including by way of regulation?
It is clear that your Ministry or the regulatory body have no answers. In which case, there should be no processing of applications in the first instance. We write to you to communicate our rejection of transgenics in our food, farming and environment and to urge you to stop your regulators from providing any regulatory clearances to GMOs and their environmental release. This applies to the current case of GM mustard in particular (all the 3 GMOs) but also all GM foods.
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