NEW DELHI: Days after according approval to field trials of genetically modified crops, the government seems to have bowed to pressure from various quarters, including RSS affiliated organisations — Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) — to put on hold these tests.
A delegation of SJM and BKS on Tuesday met Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to lodge their strong protest against the purported move to allow field trials of GM crops. “The minister assured the SJM and BKS that the decision on field trials of GM crops has been put on hold,” said a statement by SJM’s all India convenor Dr Ashwani Mahajan after the meeting.
However, Javadekar explained that the decision to allow GM trials was not taken by his ministry. He said the recommendation for allowing the field trials was made by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), a body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, on July 18. However, he had not given his approval for the tests. “We will tread cautiously and talk to all stakeholders before taking a decision,” sources close to the minister quoted him as saying.
The GEAC had not met between March 2013 and March 2014, while it had met thrice after last March.
As reports of the GEAC according approval came out, the SJM on July 19 cried it was “betrayal” of the people’s mandate by the BJP, as the party had ruled out allowing GM crops in its manifesto. “The people who have elected the BJP to power are feeling deceived,” the SJM had said in its July 19 statement. The SJM and BKS members told the Minister it was not advisable to allow GM crops without proper scientific evaluation as the technology which involves introducing a ‘foreign’ gene is dangerous because once introduced, it is irreversible.
The GEAC had cleared field trials of 15 GM crops which include major crops such as rice, chickpea, brinjal and mustard among others.