UPDATED: NOVEMBER 17, 2015
Alleging that the Centre is going to approve the commercial cultivation of a “genetically modified (GM) mustard seed” under the guise of “hybrid mustard”, Coalition for a GM-Free India urged the State Government to continue ban on use of GM crops in Bengal. GM-Free India is a platform of NGOs working for prevention of GM Crop cultivation in the country. The “hybrid mustard” has been developed by a team of scientists of a renowned University in Delhi.
In a deputation submitted to Agriculture Minister Purnendu Basu on Monday, the activists urged him that as one of the major mustard growing States, the Bengal Government should oppose the move that brings “GM Mustard closer to our plates and farms”. They also asked him to write to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar in this regard.
The Bengal Government in a notification issued by its Land and Land Reforms Department in January 2012 had stated: “Steps should be taken for banning the use of genetically modified seeds so as to protect the autonomous occupation of peasants and food sovereignty of the country.”
The activists said that being a State with high consumption of mustard, Bengal will face severe “ill-effects” of “GM-Mustard” that can result into allergy as well as kidney, liver and reproductive problems.
Contrary to the developers’ claim that the “hybrid mustered seed is high-yielding” the co-convener of GM Free India Kavitha Kuruganti said that it was an attempt to provide “back-door entry” of GM Crops in the country. The activists also claimed that the developers of the related seed have submitted their application for approval to the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the nodal agency for any commercial production and use of Genetically Engineered Organisms. GEAC comes under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
“It has been reported that the GM mustard (DMH-11) the first ever GM food crop that could potentially reach our plates, will be considered for approval in the next GEAC meeting slated after Diwali,” said Ms. Kuruganti.