New Delhi, 23rd April, 2014: A Hearing that was slated to take place today in the Supreme Court, in continuation to the arguments heard yesterday in the GMOs PIL by Aruna Rodrigues et al, got postponed for a later date1. On a day when the Supreme Court was expected to take a decisive view on GMO field trials in the country, sensational new evidence has surfaced on how the Prime Minister was directly putting pressure on the former environment minister Smt Jayanti Natarajan to agree to a unified Union of India (UoI) affidavit drafted by the Ministry of Agriculture which is a vocal promoter of GM crops (1). The file notings dated uptil 11th December 2013, now available in the public domain, show that Ms Natarajan strongly recommended a precautionary principle-based approach towards any open release of GMOs and insisting on the fact that regulation of GM crops is a mandate of MoEF which also was the primary respondent to the case until last year. She also disagreed with MoA drafting the UoI affidavit as conflict of interest was obvious.

“The elaborate comments on both reports – the 5 member TEC and Dr Paroda’s dissent note and the views of Government of India contained from pages 6 to page 33, are not reflective of my views or that of MoEF. These are the views of MoA. It is not known on what basis these views have been taken and whether the views of environmental scientists have been recorded with agricultural scientists. These submissions require modification and may perhaps be deleted due to time constraint in sorting out the differences”, she says on record.

She had to resign from the Ministry within 10 days of the last correspondence and was replaced with Veerappa Moily, who came in with an express agenda to give approvals. The current MoEF agrees with the PMO and MoA on the joint affidavit. It has to be noted that no material difference exists in terms of scientific evidence in support of GM crops between Jayanti Natarajan’s time at the helm and Moily’s. In fact, evidence related to adverse impacts of GMOs is emerging constantly from all over the world.

The Coalition for a GM Free India condemns the Union Government’s continued efforts to mislead the Court in this matter that pertains to the health, environment and livelihoods of millions of Indians, and the nation’s food security and sovereignty.

“It is unbelievable that the Prime Minister of our country ably supported by the Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar has been putting profits of biotech seed corporations before the national interest” said Rajesh Krishnan, Convenor, Coalition for a GM Free India. He further stated “how else does one explain the way in which scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of GM crops on human health, biodiversity, farm livelihoods and food security provided by credible agencies like the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee is brushed aside by the government? It is reported that the government’s counsel argued that the entire scientific community in India is unanimous in its view of safety of GMOs. This is a blatant lie. Even in the case of Bt brinjal, the Govt of India’s moratorium decision note itself has recorded reservations of various scientists. Many letters have been going to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Prime Minister of India from scores of scientists from all over the country advising caution and questioning the very need for GMOs. In fact, some scientists have been trying to intervene in the case to present their concerns and the Court is yet to hear their views. It should also be remembered that the Court’s TEC itself consists of independent scientists who recommended that open air field trials should be stopped and certain kinds of GM crops be straightaway be banned. The only TEC member who had a dissenting voice leads an organization funded by biotech majors like Mahyco.

It is ironic that the Supreme Court which has always emphasized on independent scientific expertise in this very case, in its earlier orders, is now being misguided by conflicted parties – whether it is Dr Paroda, the sixth member inducted into the TEC whose organisation receives funding support from biotech majors, or the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Science & Technology, which are promotional Ministries with regard to modern biotechnology, or industry bodies seeking to commercialise transgenic products. We hope that the Court will take note of the fact that wherever independent science prevailed, precaution has been recommended, when it comes to GMOs”, said the Coalition.

Reiterating the global developments on the GM crop debate the Coalition pointed out that France has stopped all GM field trials, a Mexican Court has suspended GMO field trials recently, a Brazilian Court has ruled against a GM crop again in the recent past, China has rejected GM corn imports, Russia has put in place a policy against transgenics and the industry’s own data shows that several countries that earlier opted for GM have stopped growing GMOs. Unfortunately, our own government has been all out to poison our food and farming with toxic GM crops and sell off the nation’s seed sovereignty to multinational seed companies. It is obvious that people who were in favour of people’s interests had no space in the UoI”.

Notes to the editor:


For more info:

Rajesh Krishnan, Coalition for a GM Free India, mob:9845650032

Kavitha Kuruganti, Allaince for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA),

Mob: 9393001550

Aruna Rodrigues, lead petitioner, Supreme Court PIL on GMOs, Mob: 9826396033

1 Other matters listed before the Bench took up time and this matter could not be heard