Following the largest farmers groups objecting to the application for release of GM Mustard, more than 100 scientists (social scientists, agriculture scientists, biotechnologists, ecologists and other related disciplines) have asked the Minister for Environment , Forests & Climate Change not to proceed with the application for commercialisation of GM mustard. They have written to the Minister as well as the PM. Here is the copy of the letter.
To: February 4th, 2016
Shri Prakash Javadekar,
Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change,
Government of India
Dear Shri Javadekar,
Sub: Strong objection against, and deep concerns with regard to the secretive and hurried processing of GM mustard “environmental release” application and the GMO in question – Asking Government of India to stop the possible approval of GM mustard – reg.
We, the undersigned scientists representing various fields of scientific expertise pertaining to India’s food and farming, understand from media reports that the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is scheduled to meet on February 5, 2016 in a meeting that is likely to take a final call on GM mustard commercialisation in India.
Proceeding forward in this hurried and secretive fashion, when there are many pending issues related to GM crops and their regulation in India – including examination of the entire biosafety assessment regime and its ability to actually protect India’s environment and citizens’ health from the risks of modern biotechnology – reeks of sinister motives that don’t favour ordinary citizens’ interests. We also understand that the current processes undertaken by the regulators are actually defying Supreme Court and Central Information Commission Orders in terms of transparency and independence of regulation and would like to warn the government that this will only erode the confidence of society on regulators as well as the scientific establishment in general.
There is absolutely no justification for any government to exhibit this kind of tearing hurry, that too in a highly secretive manner, without allowing public scrutiny or participation on a matter that is close to most citizens – safety of our food and environment.
This particular GMO – GM Mustard hybrid DMH11 developed by the CGCMP of Delhi University – has been a matter of concern from the beginning. Mustard is a crop for which India is the Centre of Diversity. It is a crop which is used in various ways and an integral part of the lives of most Indians in many ways – its use in traditional medicinal systems is also well documented. It is a crop that already has non-GM hybrids available for farmers, and has in the recent past been shown to yield impressively under agro-ecological approaches. Therefore, the very transgenic modification of this crop should have been rejected by the regulators. The GMO uses toxic genes like barnase which is well-established to cause cell toxicity, and which has possibility of being transferred to create male sterile progeny. Genetic Use Restriction Technology or GURT, which is rejected by Indian law, has been employed here. Further, DMH11 is Herbicide Tolerant, which has been recommended against by many credible committees earlier. The crop developer saying that such a HT trait need not be used by the farmers since weeds are not a problem in mustard crop is a naïve argument to say the least, since neither the farmers nor the corporations are going to refrain from using a HT crop, if the trait exists. Pollen flow, even in a seemingly small radius will be a problematic situation in Indian growing conditions with our marginal and smallholdings, in addition to the fact that physical contamination is also inevitable. The crop developer himself has admitted to this possibility already.
It is not clear why the regulators are considering processing this application in the first instance, when more basic questions are unaddressed. We understand that the main funder of this DMH11 R&D project has withdrawn support. This makes us wonder if the regulators have asked for reasons of the same, since they could have relevance for the regulatory processes underway. We also gather from reports that major mustard-growing states have come out against this GMO and have rejected it for their states. Why is the Centre defying the views and decisions of state governments?
As scientists in various relevant fields, we ask the Government of India to put an end to regulation that is secretive, and that has any elements of conflict of interest. We would like the government to put out all biosafety data in the public domain for scrutiny by all concerned. We would also like to see the regulation streamlined urgently, where any application has to be assessed based on the need for a particular GMO, and not processed just because an application has been received. We ask you not to proceed further with this GM mustard “environmental release” application.
Dr. V S Vijayan,
Chairman, Salim Ali Foundation
Phone No: 9446372880
1. Dr Abey George, Faculty, Tata Institute of Social Sciences-Kerala Centre, Trivandrum
2. Dr Amar Singh Azad, Director, Centre for Environmental Health , Patiala
3. Dr.Ambika Varma, Associate Professor (Retd.), College of Forestry, Kerala Agriculture University, Mannuthy, Trichur
4. Dr. Amit Basole, Biotechnologist and Asst Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA
5. Dr Amruth M, Scientist, Forestry and Human Dimensions, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala
6. Prof. Amulya Kumar Panda, Former Principal, Ravenshaw College, Cuttack .
7. Dr. Anoop Das, Assistant Professor, M.E.S. Mampad College, Malappuram, Kerala
8. Dr.Arun P R ,Ecologist, SACON, Coimbatore
9. Dr Arundeep Ahluwalia, Former Chairman, Department of Geology, Panjab University,Chandigarh
10. G. Arunima, Professor and Chair, Centre for Women’s Studies, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110067
11. Dr Ashok Dhawan, Former Head Dept. of Entomology, President, Indian Ecological Society
12. Dr. Ashish Ghosh, Former Member GEAC & Central Biodiversity Authority
13. Dr. Atul Mehta, Research Scientist (Rice), Anand Agriculture University.
14. Prof.(Rtd.) T.K.Basu, Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya
15. Prof.(Rtd.) R.N.Basu , Ex. VC, Calcutta University & Agriculture Scientist
16. Dr A Biju Kumar, Associate Professor and Head, Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
17. Dr C T S Nair, Former Chief Economist (Forestry Dept), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Former, Exec-Vice President, Kerala State Science Technology and Environment Council, Kerala
18. Dr Christopher, Reader, Dept of Environmental Sciences, M G University, Kerala
19. Dr.Dhanada Mishra, Director – KMBB College of Engg and Tech,Bhubaneswar, Odisha
20. Dr. Dinesan Cheruvat, Deputy Director of Fisheries & Farm Manager, Model Shrimp Farm & Training Centre, Thrissur, Kerala
21. Dr E Kunhikrishnan, Associate Professor(Retd), Dept of Zoology, Kerala University, Trivandrum
22. Dr. K.C. Dalal, Retd. Director, National Research Centre for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants(ICAR) ( Now known as DMAPR.)
23. Dr Debal Deb, Centre for Inter Disciplinary Studies, West Bengal.
24. Dr.J. Devika, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum
25. DR.W.R.Deshpandey Ex. Joint Director Extension JNKVV, Jabalpur
26. Dr Elizabeth Joseph, Retd. Scientist (Fisheries), Kerala Agriculture University
27. Dr G P I Singh , VC, Adesh University , Bathinda
28. Dr Hari Narayanan, Scientist, Professor, Guruvayoorappan College, Trichur
29. Dr. Hema M, Agricultural Economics, College of Horticulture, Kerala Agricultural University, Thrissur
30. Dr Imrana Qadeer, Distinguished Professor, CSD, Delhi
32. Dr Indira Devi, Professor (Economics), Kerala Agriculture University
33. Jagatabandhu Mohapatra , BAMS , MPH , Ayurveda Professional
34. Dr Jayanta K Das, MBBS, MD, Professor, Department of Dermatology, Vivekananda Institute of Medical Science, Kolkata
35. Dr Jyothi Krishnan, Faculty, Tata Institute of Social Sciences-Kerala Centre, Trivandrum.
36. A.J.T. Johnsingh
37. Dr.G.S.Kaushal , Ex.Director Agriculture, Govt.of Madhya Pradesh
38. Dr. Kesavapillai Prathapan, Kerala Agricultural University
39. Prof.Dr.K.K.Krishnamoorthy, President, Indian Society for Certification of organic products,Coimbatore
40. Dr. Lala Aswini Kumar Singh, PhD , Former Sr. Research Officer, Govt. of Odisha, Forest and Env Department
41. Dr Lalitha Vijayan, Sr Scientist, Salim Ali Foundation and formerly, Acting Director and Senior Principal Scientist, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural Studies (SACON), Coimbatore
42. Dr. Latha Anantha, Agriculture Scientist, River Research Centre, Kerala
43. Dr Mammen Chundamannil, Scientist, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala
44. Dr T K Maqbool, Professor in Zoology, Calicut University, Kerala
45. Dr.Mathew Koshy ,Retd. Principal of Bishop Moore College Mavelikara
46. Dr.Maya Mahajan, Associate Prof, Environmental Studies, Centre for Sustainable Future.
47. Ms Meera Abraham, Scientist (Wildlife), Presently Independent Research.
48. Dr. K.G. Mehta, Retd. Rice specialist, Gujarat Agri University
49. Dr Mira Shiva, Doctors for Food Safety and Biosafety
50. Dr. Minoo Parabiya, Retd.Botany Expert, Professor and Head, Dept of BioSciences, South Gujarat University and member, Gujarat Biodiversity Board
51. Dr.Mohan Rao, Professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University
52. Dr.Nandakumar D, Associate Prof in Geography (Retd), Kerala University.
53. Dr D Narayana, Technical Advisor, Kerala State Planning Board, Govt of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram
54. Dr Nalini Naik, SEWA-Kerala, Trivandrum.
55. Dr. Nandini Rajamani, Co-Director, India Biosciences, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore
56. Dr.A.M.Ojha Soil Scientist Indore
57. Prof Om Damani, IIT Bombay
58. Ms. Pallavi Gupta, Public Health Professional
59. Dr.S.N.Pandey Ex. Director Wheat Research Station Indore
60. Dr. Ponnammal Natarajan, (retd) Dean, Anna University
61. Dr. Partha Chakrabarti , MBBS , MD , PhD (Boston Univ),Geneticist , Senior Scientist ,
CSIR & Academy of Science , Innovation & Research (Acad-SIR),Kolkata
62. Fr. Dr J Prasant Palakkappillil, Principal, Sacred Heart College, Thevara, Kochi, Kerala
63. Dr. Parthiba Basu, Associate Professor & Head Ecology Research Unit, Department of Zoology & Director, Centre for Pollination Studies Calcutta University
64. Dr. Partho Sarothi Ray, PhD, Assistant Professor and Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance Intermediate Fellow, Department of Biological Sciences ,Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata
65. Dr.Pradeep Kumar, IIT Mumbai
66. Dr N N Panicker, Scientist, Independent Thinker and Innovator (Ocean Engineering)
67. Dr P K Prasadan, Professor in Botany, University of Calicut, Kerala
68. Prof M K Prasad, Senior Scientist and Ex-Pro-Vice Chancellor, Calicut University.
69. Dr. R Prakash Kumar, Director, Malabar Botanical Garden & Institute for Plant Sciences, Kozhikode 673 014, Kerala State
70. Dr.Rekha A. Nair M.D (Path), Additional Professor of Pathology, Regional Cancer Centre, Trivandrum-695011
71. Dr. V. V. Robin, Fellow, National Centre for Biological Sciences, Bangalore
72. Prof Rabindranath Majumdar, Professor (retired ) , Dept of Chemical Technology
University of Calcutta & Member , West Bengal State Council of Biotechnology
73. Dr.J.S.Raghu, Dean, Atal Bihari Hindi University, Bhopal
74. Dr. Rajendra Khimani, Horticulture Expert, Registrar, Gujarat Vidypith
75. Dr Rajeswari Raina, Scientist, National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies, NISTADS, Delhi
76. Dr Rajneesh Arora, Former VC, Punjab Technical University
77. Dr. Ramkrushna Panigrahi . MD , Retired , Chief District Medical Officer , Government of Odisha
78. Dr Ritu Priya, Professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
79. Dr Robert B Grubh Ph.D.D., Former Principal Scientist, Bombay Natural History Society
80. Dr R Jayaraj, Scientist, Division of Forest Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur, Kerala
81. Dr. T. V. Sajeev, Scientist (Department of Entomology), Programme Coordinator (Forestry and Human Dimension), Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Trichur
82. Dr Santhi, Ecologist, Trivandrum, Kerala
83. Dr Sarala Panickar, Entomologist (Retd), Kerala Agriculture University
84. Dr Seema Purushothaman, Professor (Development Studies), Azim Premji University, Bangalore
85. Dr Shaji, Expert in Fisheries, Formerly Scientist, Kerala State Biodiversity Board
86. Dr. Shaju Thomas, Professor and Head, Department of Zoology, Nirmalagiri College, Muvatupuzha; Kerala
87. Dr TV Sajeev, Scientist (Entomologist), Forest Health, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Kerala
88. Dr. Safique-Ul-Alam, Genetics & Plant Breeding
89. Dr. Sailabala Padhi, Former Prof. of Botany, and Director,Centre for Environmental Studies, Brahmapur ,Ganjam
90. Dr.Satpute Ex. Dean JNKVV Jabalpur
91. Dr. S. Sankar, Programme Coordinator (Forestry and Human dimension), Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Trichur
92. Dr K V Sankaran, Former Director, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Kerala
93. Prof Shambu Prasad, Science Policy Analyst and STS Studies Expert
94. Dr.S.R.Sharma, Ex. Dean JNKVV, Jabalpur
95. Dr.S.R.Shroff, Ex. Dean JNKVV , Jabalpur
96. Dr Sivaraman, Expert in Indian Systems of Medicine, Chennai
97. Dr Sthabir Dasgupta, MD, Oncologist, Author, Columnist and Activist on Cancer and Medical Malpractices, Kolkata.
98. Dr. Sultan Ahmed Ismail, Ph.D, D.Sc., Former Head Department of Biotechnology, The New College, Chennai
99. Dr.V.T.Sundaramurthy, Entomologist,Formerly Principle Scientist &Project Coordinator (AICCIP-ICAR)
100. Dr Sundara Narayana Patro, President, Orissa Environmental Society,Former Professor of Botany and Head of Regional Station, CICR, Coimbatore, TamilNadu
101. Prof. Subhasish Mukhopadhyay, Department of Biophysics, Molecular Biology and Bioinformatics,Calcutta University
102. Dr.Sudarshan Iyengar, Economist, Ex. Director, Gujarat Institute for Developmental Research and Ex. VC, Gujarat Vidyapeeth
103. Prof Sujay Basu, Prof & Head (retired) , Center for High Energy Physics, Jadavpur University & Vice Chairman State Council of Biotechnology , West Bengal
104. Dr.Thakur , Ex. Scientist, Wheat Research Station Indore
105. Dr Thara K G, Member, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, Govt. Of Kerala
106. Dr Thomas Varghese, Soil Scientist (Retd.), Kerala Agriculture University, Ex-Chairman, Kerala State Agriculture Prices Board
107. Dr. Tushar Chakraborty , Ph D, Molecular Geneticist, Asst Professor (former), University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Centre , USA;Principal Scientist & Associate Professor CSIR & Academy of Science , Innovation & Research (Acad-SIR) Science Communicator ,Policy Analyst and Science Writer, Member , State Council of Biotechnolgy , West Bengal
108. Dr Usha Balram, Professor and Head (Retd.), Dept of Zoology, All Saints College, Trivandrum, Kerala
109. Dr.Uma J Vinod, Scientist (Conservation and Research on Ornithology and Wildlife), Crow Foundation, Palakkad, Kerala
110. Dr. R. V. Varma, Former Chairman, Kerala State Biodiversy Board, and Former Head, Department of Entomology, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, Trichur
111. Dr. T. N. Vijayakumar, President, Malabar Natural History Society, Calicut, Formerly: Principal, N S S College, Manjeri, Malappuram, Kerala
112. Dr V S Vijayan, Chairman, Salim Ali Foundation, Former Chairman, Kerala State Biodiversity Board; Former and Founder Director, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural Studies (SACON, a Centre of Excellence of the Govt of India)
113. Dr.A.R. Vasavi, Social Anthropologist, Bengaluru.
114.Dr Veena Shatrugna, formerly Deputy Director, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad
115. Dr Vibha Taluja, Scientists’ Alliance for Safe Food ,Chandigarh
116. Dr Vinod Chander Nanda, Former Chairman, Department of Mathematics, Punjab University,Chandigarh
117. Dr.K.D.Yadav Ex. Professor JNKVV Jabalpur
118. Dr M Zeenath, Associate Professor, Department of Zoology, MES , KVM College Valanchery, Kerala