Coalition for a GM Free India writes to Dr Sanjeev Baliyan, MoS, Agriculture, Govt of India correcting him on his statement on safety of GM crops

New Delhi,

Dr Sanjeev Baliyan,
MoS, Ministry of Agriculture,
Govt of India.

Dear Sir,

Sub: Raising concerns on your statement in the Parliament on safety of GM crops.

Namaste! We are writing to you with serious concern regarding the statements you have been giving in the Parliament on GM crops. It is indeed unfortunate that you had to repeat the same flawed lines on the safety of GM crops that the previous Union Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar did and was contested. In a response to a question on the safety of GM crops in the Loksabha, you stated that there is no credible evidence on adverse impacts on health from GM crops. Nothing could be more inaccurate than this statement. It is very worrying that such inaccuracies in statements amount to misleading of the Parliament which is our temple of democracy.

There is a growing body of incontrovertible scientific evidence on the potential impact of GM crops on human health as well as biodiverisity. We had published a compilation of peer reviewed papers published in scientific journals which has more than 400 of them. Giving here the link to the publication.

This publication also has commentaries from legendary scientists like Dr Swaminathan, Dr Pushpa Bhargava and Dr Madhav Gadgil, who are considered as the doyens of agriculture science, modern biology and ecology respectively.

We had presented copies of this book to both the previous govt as well as yours. It is unfortunate that you have either not seen it or this has not been brought to your notice by your ministry officials who draft responses for the parliamentary questions. One wonders whether this is an error of omission or commission. What is also suprising is that the observations on the matter by the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) set up by the Hon”ble Supreme Court had been overlooked. The TEC comprising of emminent scientists from the fields of molecular biology, toxicology, biodiversity and nutrition science had highlighted scientific evidence on the various impacts of GM crops to human health and biodiverisity. Pointing to the inherent risks associated with GM crops and the inadequacies of the regulatory system in our country either to asess or regulate GMOs,they had also reccomended that no open releases of GMOsbe done untill a robust regulatory system is put in place. This was later endorsed by more than 250 Indian scientists, including 11 Vice chancellors of universities and several Padma awardees in a letter to the govt. Giving here the link to the recent letter to Sri Narendra Modi with copies market to Union Agriculture Minister, Environment Minister and Science and Technology Minister.

Beyond the issues of biosafety, GM crops also pose a serious threat to our seed soverignity, because of the IPRs associated with this technology. This has been proven in the case of Bt cotton, the only GM crops that hasbeen approved for commercialisation in our country. With in a span of 10 years after its introduction in 2002, Monsanto, the American Multinational seed giant has taken casino online total control over our cotton seed market. This has been acknowledged even by the planning commission as an issue inthe 12th five year plan document. Now after giving away the control of our cotton seeds is the government planning to give away all our seeds into the hands of Multinational seed corporations like Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Pioneer, Dupont, Dow, BASF etc? As you would know those who control seeds control Agriculture and those who control Agriculture control our country.

We are also surprised by this statement of yours which is in complete contradiction with the promise of your party, BJP, in its election manifesto for 2014 National elections. It clearly stated that a precautionary approach will be taken towards GM crops. Why would you take a precautionary approach if there is no adverse impact from them. Given that there is no dearth of scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of GM crops to human health and environment and farmers any error of omission or commission is undesirable as what is at stake is the future of our farming and the country itself.

As the Agriculture Minister of the country we expect you to safeguard citizens health, biodiversity, our seed sovereignity as well as farm livelihoods from the hands of such risky technologies like GM crops and their promoters. We hope that you will not be mislead by the biotec seed Industry and their promoters with in the government and stand firm with science and society. As a step towards that we urge you to issue a corrected statement which says that scientific evidence on adverse impacts of GM crops exists and hence a precautionary approach would be taken by the government on environmental releases of GMOs ,including field trials. It is also important that you initiate an enquiry into why these studies have not been brought to your notice by your ministry officials.

Sincerely Yours

Rajesh Krishnan,
Convenor, Coalition for a GM Free India,
Mob: 09845650032, email:

Copy to

Sri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister for Agriculture, Govt of India.

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