“Not a coincidence that several credible committees are asking for stopping of introduction of GM crops into India” – Coalition for a GM-Free India

New Delhi, August 26th 2017: Reacting to the 301st report of the Parliamentary Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests headed by Ms Renuka Chowdhury on GM crops in India, the Coalition for a GM-free India pointed out that it is no coincidence that credible committees are asking for stopping of introduction of GM crops into India, pending a completely overhaul of the regulatory regime.  The Coalition welcomed the main recommendations of the Standing Committee’s report and appreciated the sincere and consultative processes run by the Committee.
“The latest report is a reiteration in many ways of what earlier Committees like the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture (2012 & 2013) had said, as well as the majority report of the Supreme Court’s Technical Expert Committee (2013). The fact that certain unacceptable lacunae are being pointed out again and again by neutral, independent committees in the law-making and judicial wings of our democracy clearly shows that there are serious problems with transgenic crops as well as their regulation. While the government is claiming that it is yet to take a decision with regard to GM mustard ‘environmental release’, it is clear that this GM food crop does not stand scrutiny under the parameters recommended by the Parliamentary Committee. It is noteworthy that this report is once again a unanimous report, signed off by 11 BJP Parliamentarians too. We hope the Prime Minister has taken note of the report”, said the Coalition in a statement today.
The report submitted by the Committee on August 25th 2017 after more than 10 sittings, and consultations in several states, concludes that “The Committee strongly believes that unless the bio safety and socio-economic desirability, taking into consideration long run effects, is evaluated by a participatory, independent and transparent process and retrieval and accountability regime is put in place, no GM crop should be introduced in the country”.  GM mustard clearly fails on all counts listed here.
Some of the findings and consequent recommendations of the Committee are a strong indictment on the approach of the various concerned Ministries including the Ministry of Environment, Health and Agriculture with regard to GM crops. The report also acknowledges the rejection of GM crops by state governments, which is a constitutional authority they wield in the Indian federal polity. The report has used strong words like “lackadaisical approach “, “ad-hocism”, “haste for commercialising GM crops”, “apathy of the concerned government agencies” etc., while expressing its views.
The Report has pointed out, “Twenty years after their introduction in 1996, only 6 countries continue to account for over 90% of all GM crop area globally … The Committee notes  … inspite of the fact that GM technology is being propagated as the most advanced agricultural technology, 17 of the 20 most developed countries (HDI) do not grow it which includes most of Europe, Japan, Russia, Israel etc. The Committee opines that there is increasing evidence about the lack of safety of GM crops and little or no benefits to justify the risks, most countries in the world do not grow GM crops”.
The Committee has come down strongly on the ad-hoc manner in which the appointments to GEAC are being made and with the conflict of interest that pervades the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee). The Committee has also indicted the attitude of the various Ministries for not having done any comprehensive post release monitoring study about “the impact of Bt cotton on our environment, bio-diversity, bio-safety, and ecosystem”. 
The Committee has pointed out the failings of the Department of Health Research, Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries for not carrying out scientific studies about the impacts of GM crops even after 15 years of introduction of the first GM crop. One of the serious concerns that the Committee has raised is the concern that the various agencies have come to their conclusion about the safety of GM crops based simply on some reports from abroad. The Committee noted, “All the government agencies seem to have relied blindly upon the finding of the studies conducted in different parts of the world to justify their views. The Committee is of the considered view that given the topography of our country and its diversity, it is imperative that the government agencies should come up with indigenous studies to substantiate their claim that there is no threat posed to our environment on account of GM crops”.
The implications of contamination of non-GM crops have been highlighted by the Committee, as well as the lack of any accountability and recall regime.
The Coalition would like to point out that the Committee has vindicated the serious concerns raised by us consistently for many years now about Bt cotton, introduction of Bt brinjal and now the impending introduction of GM mustard.  
The report clearly exposes how poor and unreliable the Indian regulatory regime is, in addition to exposing the lies of GM proponents including within the government.  It showcases why bodies within the “scientific establishment” of the country cannot be relied upon whether it is ICAR or DHR, who are playing no pro-active role to secure the interests of citizens in the matter, but are rather seen dancing to the tune of the biotech industry at the cost of our environment, health and farm livelihoods. It is worrisome that there are no strong policy shifts happening despite repeated exposures of the failures of the Indian biotech regulation, the Coalition said. Against this background, the Coalition demands an inquiry into the farcical recommendation of the GEAC for GM mustard environmental release, to expose the anti-national elements therein. The Coalition also demands an immediate dissolution of the GEAC and an annulment of its approvals/clearances.
“The report keeps alive our faith in the Parliamentary processes, and we urge the Supreme Court also to take note of this report”, said the Coalition.
For more information contact:
Kavitha Kuruganti : 8880067772;
Kapil Shah: 9427054132

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