Earlier this week, the association representing over a 100 taluk and district level associations as members has written in to the Ministry of Commerce, the All India Rice Exporters Association and the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee demanding that the authorities take all the necessary steps to ensure no permission is given for any research on GM paddy. 1
Rice is one of the 71 crops undergoing various stages of research in India. It is at the last stage which entails the open field trials across the country, following which the crop would be considered for commercial cultivation. Field trials are by nature open to the environment, and thus invariably pose a threat of contamination.
That a case of rice contamination has already been recorded in Jharkhand in 2009,2 should serve as an adequate warning of the potential consequences. India has already witnessed this in the case of Bt cotton, which has virtually taken over traditional varieties of cotton across the country
This is not the first time a measure of this nature has been taken in the country. Earlier in 2006, the All India Rice Exporters Association had moved the Centre to declare a GM-free belt for the basmati growing states, understanding fully well the revenue losses that they would accrue from business loss due to contamination. Contamination and associated losses are a growing concern as more and more countries continue to reject genetically modified organisms.
In 2011, the European Union recorded 47 cases of rice contamination from Chinese shipments. That contamination was found despite the fact that China is only in the testing stage and has not permitted the commercial cultivation of genetically modified rice raises serious concerns.3
There is a growing concern from businesses from across the world, given the implications the technology has on agriculture and business in the long run. Earlier this year, China for instance for the first time came out with the draft Grain Law, which clearly states that "Neither group nor individual may apply genetically-modified technologies to staple foods," thereby securing rice, corn and wheat from being modified.4
Likewise, the Thailand government came up with a Rice Master Plan, which outlines a policy that aims to keep Thai rice free of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) for the period 2011-2015.5 India should not only take cue from China and Thailand but also understand that there a growing rejection of GMOs from across the world.
The Association's demand comes at a time when more and more crops are reaching the field trial stage, and the possibilities from contamination are multiplying several times even while there is no science to prove safety in the long run and the regulatory process in the country is in shambles.
Given that there is a wide ranging opposition to GM food in our country from farmers, consumers, traders and others Greenpeace India calls on the Indian government to put a complete stop to GM crops field trials and commercialisation. Simultaneously, the Government should invest in ecological agriculture at the research level and holistic mechanisms to incentivise farmers to adopt ecological agriculture practices on a large scale across the country.
Shivani Shah, Sustainable Agriculture campaigner, Greenpeace India, Mob +91- 9986877364, email:
Pari Trivedi, Media Officer, Greenpeace India, Mob: +91- 7503893981, email: