Sarson Satyagraha writes to Dr Harsh Vardhan, May 22nd 2017

To:                                                                                                                                                                                                              May 22nd 2017

Dr Harshvardhan,

In-Charge Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change,

Government of India.



Dear Dr Harshvardhan,






Sir, we are addressing this letter to you as the interim Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change, after the unexpected demise of Shri Anil Madhav Dave. Sarson Satyagraha is a broad platform of hundreds of organisations representing farmers, consumers, scientists and others that has been at the forefront of resisting the approval of GM mustard in India, as we would like to see lasting, farmer-controlled, farmer-friendly solutions to be put into place rather than hazardous, irreversible and uncontrollable living technologies deployed in an unscientific and unaccountable manner.


It is ironical that we are having to write to you now, since it is your parent Ministry, Ministry of Science & Technology and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) within the Ministry, which has been funding, promoting and passing off GM mustard as a requirement for India’s agriculture, and passing it off as being safe whereas both these claims are unscientific and unfounded.


We now address ourselves to you and hope that as a medical doctor yourself, you will understand the risks involved in a herbicide tolerant GMO entering our food and farming systems. From South American countries, there is evidence of an environmental health crisis related to HT GM crops that have been planted on a large scale in countries like Argentina and Brazil. The medical fraternity/associations there have issued a warning against the use of such crops, correlating large scale health problems with the use of glyphosate-tolerant GM crops and increased usage of herbicides.


Over the past several months, we have meticulously analysed and showed scientific evidence (even with the limitation of no biosafety dossier being put out in the public domain) on the falsehoods related to GM mustard claims, both of its benefits and safety (available at We have shown that the benefit claims are exaggerated and unfounded, while lack of safety has been hidden by cleverly bypassing many tests and passing off an unsafe GMO as safe.


We have also pointed out that giving GM canola illustration here in India is not tenable given that our cultivation as well as consumption conditions differ vastly from USA, Canada and Australia, the only three countries that have opted for GM rapeseed cultivation. We have shown that those countries around the world with impressive rapeseed yields are ones which have not opted for a GM hybrid version, but have used CMS technology for hybridization. China is one such example (we bring in China because Indian policy makers always seem to be competing with China on many things).


As some people close to the former Minister Shri Dave, including BJP leaders have been sharing in their obituaries, your predecessor was not in favour of approving GM mustard for commercialization in India, having been an advocate and practitioner of sustainable natural farming himself. It was clear that he was pitted against a dispensation that wanted to approve GM mustard, irrespective of whether there was any scientific evidence that justifies its need, efficacy or safety. He revealed to some activists that he was even toying with the idea of resigning from his post rather than sign on an approval.


On May 17th 2017, when your predecessor met with our delegation, we had thrown a challenge to the Indian regulators to engage with us in an open public debate, if they have science and science-based evidence to support their clearance of HT mustard with them. We also went to the Ministry in a large delegation from different states of India, to communicate to the MoEFCC that if GM mustard is not rejected soon, the government will have to face large resistance not only from ordinary citizens, but from state governments and other stakeholders.


Shri Dave assured our delegation that he will work towards a comprehensive policy on GMOs in a manner that activists need not have to struggle on a case by case basis for each GMO that comes up for commercial cultivation approval in the country. He also assured us that he would take our concerns and the discussion to the ‘right platform’, implying that he will not take the decision alone.


We write to you now to impress upon you that this GM mustard deserves to be rejected in toto. GM mustard is a hazardous scientific fraud being perpetuated on the nation, that too with taxpayers’ own funds. This is simply unacceptable.


Your current post as an interim Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change incidentally also holds an unacceptable conflict of interest (with the parent Ministry of Science & Technology promoting and funding GMO R&D), and therefore requires supreme objectivity based on rigorous evidence as well as perspectives of equity and sustainability. We have enormous and meticulous evidence to share from our side and seek a meeting with you where all details can be discussed threadbare. Thank you.




Sd/- on behalf of Sarson Satyagraha

Dr Rajinder Chaudhary

Ph: 9416182061

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