- Prakash Javadekar
Genetically Modified Mustard is Unsafe for Us. Stop potential approval of its cultivation
This ‘new’ mustard in our kitchen could soon be harmful to us. Mustard oil is an everyday consumption item for lakhs of families across India. Almost all our curries are incomplete without a seasoning of mustard and mustard products find their way into our food in various ways. Don’t we have babies massaged with mustard oil? Have we not enjoyed Sarson da Saag on cold winter days?
And now our mustard is getting Genetically Modified. Shockingly, important information about this new Genetically Modified (GM) mustard is not being disclosed to us.
The government regulators are planning to meet soon and take a decision on permitting GM mustard to be cultivated across the country. If approved, GM mustard will be the first GM food on our plates and that’s disturbing.
I am seriously concerned about this move, especially when it goes against the promise of BJP in its manifesto not to allow GM food into the country without fully evaluating it scientifically.
Not only are they breaking their promise, they are doing it so quickly and quietly that you and I hardly have time to react. We need to act now to make sure the food we eat everyday is safe and healthy.
We cannot allow the government to take decisions about the food we eat in this underhand manner. This is mustard, we all use it, we cannot avoid using it. If permitted, we might have no choice but to use harmful, unhealthy GM Mustard.
And GM Mustard is totally unnecessary especially because there are existing local and hybrid varieties as well as farm practices which give as much or more than the yield claims of this dangerous GM mustard. Contamination from GM Mustard is also fast and irrevocable.
Ask Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to stop the possible approval of commercial cultivation of GM Mustard.
Several studies show that GM food is not safe for us. Indian government is aware of such studies. Many people have pointed to the dangers of GM food including experts and even the Technical expert committee set up by the Supreme Court itself.
Despite these warnings, GM Mustard is now going to be released in India. However no data has been released about its safety tests. Nor has information been put out on what went into making this GM mustard. This includes the fact that new genes for male sterility and tolerance towards weed-killing chemicals called herbicides have been used to make this GM mustard. The herbicides in question are associated with big MNCs like Bayer.
We don’t want GM food. Government knows this. The previous government was forced to revoke the commercial approval for Bt Brinjal, another GM food crop, after safety issues were made public and we protested.
Supreme Court-appointed Technical Committee and a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture have both recommended against any open air release of GMOs, including field trials leave alone commercial cultivation, until our regulatory system is revamped. They have also spoken about the growing scientific evidence on the adverse impacts to health and environment from GM crops.
Sign my petition and ask Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to ensure no commercial cultivation of GM Mustard is permitted and release all data about the GM Mustard safety tests.
This is a fight for the food we eat everyday. Sign my petition and forward this campaign to your friends.
For more information on this issue, take a look at this presentation we put together. http://www.slideshare.net/RachnaArora4/gm-mustard-rsks-and-threats
- Prakash Javadekar
Dear Shri Javadekar,
Sub: Stop the invasion of GM mustard towards our farms and food plates
This is to express our serious opposition to the possible approval of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard into India, given that there is a report confirming that Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGCMP) transgenic crop developers have moved an application for approval for commercial cultivation of their transgenic mustard hybrid called DMH11. In response to eminent citizens including Padma awardees writing to you expressing their concerns with regard to this GM mustard, on August 1st, you had responded back saying that “there is no application; so the question of allowing does not arise”. So, we knock on your doors once again, given that there is indeed an application now with the regulators.
This DMH11, like other GMOs, will have objectionable health and environmental impacts, going by the experience of other similar GMOs like GM canola in other countries. Super weeds are a real problem, in addition to health impacts of herbicides used on such crops. Contamination of other varieties of mustard is inevitable, and as you know, this has serious implications given that India is a Centre of Diversity for mustard.
The yield myth around transgenic technology is being thrown around once again, while we know that yields of mustard can be increased by ways other than seed-based solutions; further, if hybrids are to be seen as an option, we also know that non-transgenic hybrids are already available in the market, apart from high yielding varieties. Therefore, this GM mustard is unneeded in the first instance – it is not out of place to remind you that many committees in the country had already recommended that transgenic option should be considered only if no other option is available or feasible. It is unimaginable that the regulators have entertained this application at each stage and allowed it to come to this stage, when policy directives should have been used long ago to stop the onward march of this unneeded and unwanted transgenic crop.
This GMO is also unwanted, like all other GMOs in our food and farming systems, as the resounding NO that this country heard from citizens during the Bt brinjal debate, and from the resounding NO emerging from state governments which have even refused to allow field trials of this GMO. In such a situation, it is absolutely unacceptable that the regulators would even consider such an application and process it.
Regulators should have used the recommendations that have come out from the judiciary-based, parliamentary and executive inquiry and study processes into the subject of GM crops, all of which recommended against crops like this GM mustard.
The safety of this GM mustard is unknown and regulators are hiding important information from the public to protect the interests of crop developers. What exactly is being hidden and why? Why does objectionable conflict of interest continue in the GEAC, with a scientist of CGCMP being a member?
We demand that the regulators put out all the biosafety information on this GMO for public scrutiny, as laid down by CIC and Supreme Court Orders in the past.
We also warn the government against any moves to approve this GMO - we will not allow the choices of farmers and consumers to be violated by the introduction of an unsafe, irreversible and uncontrollable technology; we demand that the regulators do not process this application. It is within your capacity to intervene at this stage and ensure that the regulators - who have time and again proven their apathy, incapability, conflict of interest, lack of scientificity and lack of transparency - do not go against public interest in any way.
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