Greenpeace demands GEAC not to approve GM field trials

Environment Minister Moily says he has not approved any field trials

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Press release - March 19, 2014
Greenpeace, India demands the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which is due to meet on March 21, 2014, not to approve open air field trials of different transgenic varieties of GM crops as the Union Minister for Environment and Forests, M Veerappa Moily has gone on record denying any government approval for trials. The GEAC is the regulator of GM crops in the country.

Confronted by farmers on the issue of GM crops, Moily on Tuesday said that he had only looked at the file and returned it and did not approve any field trials. Scores of farmers of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers' Movements (SICCFM), from four states of South India, had met him at his residence in Bangalore.

Following Moily's disapproval, the GEAC is bound by former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, who had put these field trials on hold as expressed in her letter to the Prime Minister on July 9, 2013 citing that the matter is sub judice before the Supreme Court. Therefore the GEAC should not approve any field trials in the absence of approval from the Environment Minister. A Supreme Court hearing in the matter of field trials is due in early April this year.

Neha Saigal, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, said, "In the wake of the growing scientific evidence against GM crops and the precautionary approach upheld by credible bodies like the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) and the scientific Technical Expert Committee (TEC) of the Honourable Supreme Court, GEAC should not allow any field trials. This becomes even more relevant as the Environment Minister, Veerappa Moily has confirmed that he not taken any decision to reverse the precedence set by Jayanthi Natarajan."

Recently various state governments besides Kerala and Tamil Nadu, like Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan have denied permissions for field trials in the past. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha in a recent statement said that she will do her best to keep the state free from GM crop trials. "Agriculture is a state subject and the Central Government should not force its will. There is a public movement in states like Punjab and Karnataka opposing GM crop field trials," added Saigal. In the wake of such large scale protests the GEAC should not approve GM field trials.

Notes to the editor:

1. Veerappa Moily's statement to the farmers is available at http://youtu.be/fCxRuUuW3zY (English), http://youtu.be/n6O6W31T2M0 (Kannada)

2. The letter by Jayanthi Natarajan to the Prime Minister is available at http://indiagminfo.org/?attachment_id=680

For more information, please contact:

Neha Saigal, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +91-7760968772

Sumit Saxena, Media Officer, +91-9891857219

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