When a government body excludes all the farmers’ and consumers’ voice to decide on pushing a highly debated technology into their farm and food, it’s time for the alarm bells to ring in a democracy. Specially when independent scientists raise concern, farmer unions protest and consumers say no to GM crops very vocally. The major mustard producing states have clearly opposed GM Mustard. For whose benefit are these people taking decisions in closed room are working for?
Activists protest against the potential approval of GM Mustard outside Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
GM Mustard is a herbicide tolerant hybrid that is resistant to Glufosinate, a toxic herbicide, which will dramatically increase the presence of toxic chemicals in our food. The farmers will have to pay higher price for the seeds. We Indians will be eating the leaves and the seeds alike of a plant that has been genetically mutated. All this when ecological solutions have shown higher levels of productivity and resilience which is good for environment, farmers, people but of course not for seeds and chemical producing companies.
Rally against genetically modified Mustard in New Delhi held on 5th February 2016 outside Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change
Under the banner of Sarson Satyagraha, a group of farmer organizations and concerned citizens working to protect our Mustard from genetic contamination gathered on 5th February in front of Pariyawaran Bhawan(offices of environment ministry). This was to stand witness to GEAC(GM crops regulatory body) meeting on GM Mustard’s approval and lodge their protest against the same. The Chairman of GEAC had to come out to face the group and accepted the demand to talk to our environment minister Shri Prakash Javadekar regarding our concerns. Shri Javadekar heard the concerns of a delegation from Sarson Satyagraha and assured that no decision will be taken on GM mustard in today’s meeting. When the delegation objected to opacity in the working of GEAC and absence of a health ministry representative, as GM concerns the health of the consumers, he promised to look into the matter and closed the meeting. So GM Mustard has been delayed, but not stopped.
Our concerns are scientific and rational based on experiences of farmers and consumers across the world suffering under the weight of a failed technology which is not reversible. There is a growing number of independent scientists and research that is raising serious concerns on GM safety. We all need to fight together to ensure that the democracy wins and so does this constant struggle to keep our food safe for us and our generations to come.
Manvendra Singh Inaniya is a sustainable agriculture campaigner at Greenpeace India