Activists criticise recommendation on GM mustard by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee

Activists criticised the biotech regulator's decision to recommend the commercial use of genetically modified mustard to the environment ministry.

Published: 26th August 2017 09:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th August 2017 09:07 PM   |  A+A-

Farmers and activists staging a protest over GM mustard seeds in Bhubaneswar. (File Photo | EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Activists today criticised the biotech regulator GEAC's decision to recommend commercial use of genetically modified mustard in a submission to the environment ministry.

Coalition for a GM-Free India said it is no coincidence that credible committees are asking to stop the introduction of GM crops.

Their comments came a day after a parliamentary panel said that no GM crop should be introduced in India unless the bio-safety and socio-economic desirability is evaluated in a "transparent" process and an accountability regime is put in place.

The department-related parliamentary standing committee on science and technology and environment and forest chaired by Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury made its recommendations in its 301st report on 'GM crop and its impact on environment'.

The panel's comment came in the wake of India's GM crop regulator Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recently recommending the commercial use of genetically modified mustard in a submission to the environment ministry.

The coalition said the latest report is a reiteration in many ways of what earlier committees like the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture (2012 and 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," the coalition said in a statement.

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 coalition said.

It said the report also acknowledges the rejection of GM crops by state governments.

"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 is worrisome that there are no strong policy shifts happening despite repeated exposures of the failures of the Indian biotech regulation," the coalition said.

The Coalition also demanded an inquiry into the "farcical" recommendation of the GEAC for GM mustard environmental release, to "expose the anti-national elements" therein.

The Coalition said the GEAC should be immediately dissolved and its approvals and clearances annulled.

"The report keeps alive our faith in the Parliamentary processes, and we urge the Supreme Court also to take note of this report," the Coalition said.

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