"The environment minister has gone ahead and approved around 200 GM Field Trials including GM varieties of rice, maize and other food crops which have a huge potential to contaminate our seed and food supply. We want all the political parties to come forward and demand the reversal of this irresponsible decision," said Neha Saigal, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace, India. She further added that, "Mr. Moily's clearance for field trials just before the country is going for Lok Sabha elections smacks of impropriety, to say the least. Clearly corporate interests have won over the people of this country."
"It's now amply clear that Veerappa Moily was brought in during the last innings of the UPA 2 to give express approvals for these risky experiments of GM crops and with this one act the govt has once again proved that they do not care about science or society when it comes to GM crops," said Rajesh Krishnan, Convenor, Coalition for a GM Free India. The coalition had recently released a compilation of more than 400 scientific papers on the adverse impacts of GM crops (1). He further stated that "This is a last ditch effort by the central govt to bring GM crops into our food and farms through the backdoor after having failed to pass the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill to ease their approval process".
BRAI Bill, 2013, an alleged legislative effort by the UPA-2 government to create a single window easy approval system for environmental releases of GM crops had lapsed after repeated efforts of the govt to get it passed, failed in the parliament.
The decision to permit field trials has been getting flak from various quarters. Various farmer unions as well as political parties like AAP, JD (U) and PMK have condemned this action. The Kerala state Agriculture Minister in a public statement after learning about the field trial permission declared that Kerala will not permit any field trials of GM crops. State governments of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Tamilnadu had earlier denied permissions for GM field trials in their respective states.
"Experience with the only GM crop, Bt cotton, has shown that GM crops benefit multinational seed companies and no one else. Veerappa Moily, by permitting field trials seems to be doing a great favour to these companies who are out there to take control of our seeds and thereby our farming," said Umendra Dutt of Kheti Virasat Mission from Punjab. Pointing to the doubling of share prices of Monsanto, the American multinational seed giant, who is also the global leader in GM seeds, within a span of 2 months of Moily taking over as the Union Environment Minister, he further stated that this collusion of seed companies and policy makers is putting our seed, food and national sovereignty at risk."
Joining the protest, Rachana Arora, of India for Safe Food Campaign stated that, "GM crops are one of the greatest threats to our food safety and consumer choice and we reject all those who stand for GM crops."
The activists urged all the political parties to stand by the welfare of the citizens and nation and oppose the disastrous decision taken by Veerappa Moily.
Link to compilation of scientific references on Adverse Impact of Transgenic Crops- http://indiagminfo.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Sci-ref-complete-book-2nd-edition.pdf
Neha Saigal, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India, +91 7760968772,
Rajesh Krishnan, Convenor, Coalition for a GM Free India, +91 9845650032,
Umendra Dutt, Executive Director, Kheti Virasat Mission, Punjab, +91 9872682161,
Shashwat Raj, Senior Media Officer, Greenpeace India, +91 9971110144,