Letter from Sarson Satyagraha to MoEFCC on May 17th 2017

To:                                                                                                                                                          May 17th 2017

Shri Anil Madhav Dave,

Minister of Environment, Forests & Climate Change,

Government of India.


Dear Shri Anil Madhav Dave,

Greetings! The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has gone ahead and on May 11th 2017 cleared genetically modified herbicide tolerant mustard for commercial cultivation in India. They of course did this in great secrecy, as has become their style of unaccountable functioning. The claimed reasons for, and benefits from this GMO kept changing as we kept challenging the data and evidence in front of the regulators over the past several months. Throughout the past 1.5 years of engagement with us on this matter, they ran only farcical processes, dodged all serious scientific questions, and   continue to be opaque about data, dossiers and decisions. They continue to bring shame to Indian science.

After its secretive approval, the GEAC released an FAQ note on GM mustard for a few hours and then pulled it back for minor corrections. We have brought out all the facts about this GM mustard and answered the important questions they deliberately avoided asking and answering.

We have come now to challenge the MOEFCC to an open public scientific debate on the claimed benefits and safety of this GM HT mustard.

We have also come to ask you to reject the GM mustard application in toto.

We would like to gently remind you that you would be very much correct in rejecting the GM mustard application – after all, the BJP had promised us, in its election manifesto, that no GMOs will be allowed in food and farming without long term, thorough scientific studies.

You should reject this GM mustard application, so that it could be one of the highlights when the country and BJP talk about 3 years of the government in power – that would then be a commitment made and kept. Otherwise, it is clear that this government is not keen on keeping promises made.

We would also like to remind you that you would very much be correct in rejecting GM mustard since the state governments do not want it. The rejection is also from BJP-ruled state governments which are the largest mustard growing states, including Madhya Pradesh, your home state, which has its GM-free policy enshrined in its organic farming policy.

We would like to further remind you that you would be very much correct in rejecting GM mustard since the scientific basis of either its benefit claims or safety claims are extremely shaky and simply unfounded.

You would be very much correct in rejecting GM Mustard since various committees in the executive (Swaminathan Task Force), parliamentary (Standing Committee on Agriculture) and judicial (SC Technical Expert Committee) arenas have already said NO to such crops.

You would be very much correct in rejecting GM Mustard as that is what the citizens of this country want, as they have expressed time and again, with Bt brinjal in 2010 and now with GM mustard.

Importantly, we are here to say that we have followed all possible processes of engagement so far and we did so with utmost sincerity and integrity spending tremendous amount of time and our personal resources, assuming that the regulators and the government were truly taking up a case by case approach to GM decision-making. We gave detailed analysis to the regulators which they made a farce of, in the way they minuted a special meeting on July 18th 2016 in a completely scornful, irresponsible and supercilious manner. This is after all about lives, livelihoods, health, environment and sustainability of all citizens of India and it is not acceptable to have regulators behave like this.

There is no liability regime in place, nor any co-existence policy. Labeling regime to give consumers their right to informed choices is missing, even as regulators and the government move ahead with business as usual.

We tried to meet concerned people in the PMO (we were shuttled between Mr Nripendra Mishra’s office and Dr PK Mishra’s office over phone with regard to who was responsible for decision-making there) in vain. This government chose to ignore the voice of more than 28 national organisations and alliances, and 120 organisations from 20 states of India which assembled at Jantar Mantar on October 25th 2016, a day after the AG gave an assurance in the Supreme Court that the government will not approve GM mustard without the Court’s nod.

The decision of approving finally vests with you. As an environmentalist yourself, we believe that you have a clear understanding of the issues involved.

Sir, we are here to ask you to reject the GM mustard application, or face the stiff resistance of citizens of this country. Any approval would be a great injustice that this government would do to the farm sector, its people and future generations. We have come to tell you that we would do everything democratic and peaceful possible, to make sure that GM mustard is rejected for commercial cultivation in India.   



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