New Delhi, May 17th 2017: A delegation from Sarson Satyagraha marched up to the Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change today to ask the Minister for Environment to reject the GM mustard commercialization application. Sarson Satyagraha is a broad platform of hundreds of organisations representing farmers, scientists, consumers and others that has been on the forefront of resisting GM mustard. They said that GM mustard is a big scientific fraud on the nation, and challenged the government to an open public debate. They said that the GEAC is a discredited body that functions in an unscientific and irregular manner. The claims around yield increases and decline in edible oil imports by adoption of this GM mustard were totally unfounded. While the benefit claims have no basis or proof presented, and have indeed been discounted by the Government itself in its affidavit to the Supreme Court, the risks have been unrevealed. The fact that this GM mustard is a herbicide tolerant GM crop has not been stated and left unassessed for risks related to increased toxic chemical usage in our farming. The delegation consisted of representatives of farmer unions, consumer groups, retailers association, bee-keeping industry, organic farming associations, farmers and consumers. The delegation said that GM mustard is nothing but a door-opener, and will lead to acche din for only agri-business corporations and double their incomes, and not farmers’. “The garb of a public sector GMO does not wash, despite their strategy to make this GMO as a Trojan Horse to bring in other GMOs too”, they said.


“We hear that the government is preparing its report card to the nation on three years of Modi Sarkaar. Is this GM mustard Modi government’s dangerous gift to the nation, to mark its 3 years in existence? We would like to remind the government about what BJP had promised in its Manifesto in 2014 with regard to GM technology, and that this GM mustard in no way abides by that commitment. We ask the Minister to reject this application immediately”, said Yudhvir Singh of Bhartiya Kisan Union and Convenor of Indian Coordination Committee for Farmers’ Movements (ICCFM).


Badrinarayan Chaudhary, National General Secretary of Bhartiya Kisan Sangh added that the issue of increased oilseed production towards self-reliance cannot be solved by unsafe technologies like GM. “Farmers already have a choice of hybrids in the market. The advent of several hybrids over the past decade or so did not bring down our oil imports. This GM mustard was not even compared with the best hybrids to begin with, for anyone to make yield increase claims. What we farmers have been asking for is better policies to ensure that cheap imports don’t price out our farmers (and therefore, an increase in import duties), higher MSPs that would incentivize oilseed production and most importantly, market support in terms of actual procurement and market intervention”, he said.


GM mustard is a herbicide tolerant crop. Bayer, a multinational corporation, stands to benefit from its approval. It is worth noting that it is Bayer’s GM mustard that was turned down in 2002. Herbicide tolerant crops result in more chemical usage in farming, as has been documented in other countries.


Amit Dhanuka, representing the bee-keeping industry, pointed out that GM mustard will impact the honey industry and its export potential. He said that their concerns have not been addressed anywhere when GEAC has given its green signal.


“Organic farmers will be adversely impacted by GMOs. Contamination is inevitable, and any GM presence is prohibited in organic produce. This government appeared to have understood the importance of organic farming, when it brought in some flagship programmes like PKVY to promote such farming. GM and organic are incompatible. When an organic farmer loses his/her status as an organic farmer due to contamination, who is liable? Where are liability laws in this country in case of damage? Without putting into place such a liability regime, how is the government rushing into this?”, asked Kapil Shah of Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI).


Rajesh Krishnan of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said that the nation is waiting to see a responsible and fearless decision from the Environment Minister, and for him to reject the GM mustard application. He said that the Minister would be upholding scientific integrity by doing so.  He would also be upholding the federal polity of the nation by rejecting GM mustard since mustard growing states do not want this GM mustard to be approved. So far, Bihar, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi governments have written to the Centre against GM mustard approval, and states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha and West Bengal have stated that they will not allow GM mustard.


Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Environment & Forests, Science & Technology Renuka Choudhury has written to the Environment Minister that GM mustard should not be approved since the Committee is studying the subject and will give its report soon. In a new turn of events, Union Minister for Food Processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal has stated that there is absolutely no reason for India to go in for GM mustard given the better option of safer and healthier organic food.


“What about consumers’ right to informed choices? Why should I be forced to eat GM when I don’t want it, and know it is unsafe? Can the government implement a labeling regime in the country? Has it done it so far? How can it then rush into GM mustard commercialization?”, demanded to know Ananthoo of Safe Food Alliance, Tamil Nadu.


Dr Rajinder Chaudhary, economist, said that it is absolutely false information to say that most edible oil being consumed in India, or being imported into India is genetically modified. “No, less than 2% of India’s edible oil consumption is imported GM rapeseed. Even if we add GM soy oil being imported, it is only around 12-13% of India’s edible oil consumption. Even this has happened in an illegal fashion, without the permission of the regulators for many years. Instead of pulling up the regulators for allowing such illegal GM oils, it is unacceptable if the government uses that as an excuse to approve GM mustard, while brushing aside the fact that cultivation of a GMO brings in many more risks than the risks from imported GM oil consumption”, he said.


“Adverse environmental health impacts of such crops are showing up in South American countries like Argentina, prompting the medical fraternity there to issue warnings. Here, in India, we cannot imagine what horrific impacts herbicide tolerant crops will have in the environmental-health-crisis-laden Punjab, for example. HT crops also displace poor rural women from their largest source of employment in agriculture, whereas the government is not in a position to provide them with any alternatives. GM mustard is unneeded, unsafe and is being sought to be brought in fraudulently, with all data hidden from independent scientific scrutiny”, said Kavitha Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).


“We challenge the regulators to an open public debate on the claimed need, benefits and safety of GM mustard. If they are confident of their science and integrity of appraisal, they should join such a debate so that citizens know what they are being subjected to”, the delegation said. They asked the Minister to reject the application in toto or face the stiff resistance of citizens of the country. They wanted the Minister to be responsive to society and responsible to society in keeping with his background and mandate.




  1. Letter to the Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change, dated May 17th 2017 can be accessed at:
  2. GEAC’s regulatory clearance to GM mustard – how reliable is it? –;
  3. Memorandum to the PM from Sarson Satyagraha:


For more information, contact:


Rajesh Krishnan, 7559915032

Kavitha Kuruganti,  8880067772

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