“No need to dilly dally on a simple, public interest and promised decision to be taken: Say NO to GM mustard” – Coalition for a GM-Free India to Government of India

New Delhi, July 31st 2017: The Coalition for a GM-free India, a pan-Indian informal alliance of more than 150 organisations, urged the Government of India to reject the GM mustard environmental release application without any further delay. Reacting to the Government’s statement in the Supreme Court that it has not yet taken a policy stand on the subject, and would need another month to arrive at a decision, the Coalition said that a rejection decision should be a fairly simple and public interest matter, and said it was unclear why the government is shying away from standing on the side of good, responsible science. The Coalition also pointed out that the arguments of the government in the Court are contradictory and false – on the one hand, saying that it had not taken a decision, and on the other hand, wanting to multiply seeds and “demonstrate” GM mustard potential. “This then is a tacit agreement of the lack of testing on GM mustard”, it said. Further, the UoI affidavit denying that GM mustard is a herbicide tolerant crop is an outright lie, the Coalition said.
“Credible committees have already recommended against herbicide tolerant crops, and transgenics in crops for which we are the Centre of Origin or Diversity. GM mustard fits the bill for both these important rejection parameters already clearly recommended. Why should the government linger on the decision any more? It should actually be investing immediately on safe, successful and proven technologies like System of Mustard Intensification, if it is serious about India’s oilseeds farmers and edible oil production”, said the Coalition in a Press Release.
“This is the time to take up intense extension and capacity building efforts, in time for the rabi season, to establish on a large scale agro-ecological solutions that have far more potential and absolutely no risks, in order to improve our oilseed yields. We also hope that the government would not leave our farmers in a lurch in the usual ‘produce more and perish’ formula being advocated, and that oilseed farmers will be provided with attractive and remunerative prices, followed by actual procurement by government agencies”, read the statement.
Meanwhile, more state governments are articulating their stand against GM mustard. Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal, Odisha, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala have so far said No to GM mustard.
“We would like to draw the attention of the Supreme Court that its own Technical Expert Committee in its majority independent report had clearly asked India to stay away from herbicide tolerant crops. These crops have huge socio-economic ramifications for poor rural households, in addition to adverse environmental and health implications. It is perplexing why the Court is not passing Orders on its own TEC recommendations”, remarked the Coalition. The Coalition also wanted to draw the Court’s attention to the fact that GEAC is lying in its affidavits to the Court, when it claims that GM mustard is not a herbicide tolerant crop. It also pointed out that in the latest affidavit filed in the Court, the government brought back its yield increase claims with GM mustard when nothing of that sort has been tested or verified so far as per the government’s own admission in an earlier affidavit.
On July 30th 2017, a group of eminent economists, led by Prof Sudarshan Iyengar, former Vice Chancellor of Gujarat Vidyapeeth have written to the Prime Minister, pointing out that GM mustard has no benefits to offer. Before that, 35 eminent medical experts including two former Union Health Ministers, two Padma Bhushan doctors, retired or serving Vice Chancellors/Registrars of medical universities etc., wrote to the Prime Minister explaining the grave dangers of GM crops in general and herbicide tolerant crops like the current GM mustard in question.

Two years ago, it was on this day (July 31st 2015) that sustainable agriculture and farmers’ rights groups around the country joined hands to launch the Sarson Satyagraha from Rajghat in Delhi.

For more information, contact: Kavitha Kuruganti at 8880067772 and Kapil Shah at 9427054132.

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