New Delhi: June 22, 2013: Greenpeace India welcomed the Indian government’s decision to stop the permission for field trials of GM crops and called it a step in the right direction for keeping our food and farms free from contamination from GM crops. This is in the wake of media reports which showed that the Union Environment Ministry has reversed approvals by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to permit 25 applications of field trials in their last meeting (1). The GEAC meeting minutes put up on their website this week, after almost two months of the meeting in March, 2013, showed that approvals have been granted or extended for open field experiments of GM variety of staples like rice and wheat besides corn, castor and cotton.
"The decision by the Indian govt to stop field trials is a victory for sound science as there is a growing scientific evidence on the impacts of GM crops to environment, human health and farming” said Rajesh Krishnan, Campaigner, Greenpeace India. He further urged the Government not to succumb to pressure from biotech seed corporations. "Experience across the world show that open field trials are a sure shot for contamination of our food and seed chains by risky GM crops. What is at risk is our health, our environment and our farming now and forever."
The latest in the GM field trial scandals was the contamination of regular wheat supplies in US from field trials of Herbicide tolerant, Round Up Ready (RR) wheat by Monsanto, the largest and most controversial Biotech seed company in the world. This has wreaked havoc for the wheat farmers in the US with import markets shutting doors on them.(2) A similar scandal occurred in US in 2006 with herbicide tolerant LL rice of Bayer. Shockingly both these varieties have been given an approval for field trials for the upcoming seasons by GEAC.
Recently the Court of appeals of the supreme court of Philippines in response to a public interest litigation by civil society groups had stopped all field trials of Bt Brinjal in the country. The court took this decision keeping in mind the constitutional right of every Filipino citizen to a healthy and balanced ecology.(3)
Greenpeace India urged government of India to pay heed to the growing rejection of GM crops across our country and the world and to keep our food and farming free from GM crops. It also demanded that as a step in this direction the union government should withdraw the controversial Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, 2013 as it is nothing but a single window clearance system for easy approval of GM crops and a Monsanto promotion and protection Act.(4)
Note to the Editor:
- The Times of India, June 21, 2013: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/developmental-issues/Govt-puts-on-hold-clearances-for-GM-crop-trials/articleshow/20709335.cms
- United States Department of Agriculture: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?contentid=2013/06/0127.xml&navid=NEWS_RELEASE&navtype=RT&parentnav=LATEST_RELEASES&edeployment_action=retrievecontent