NEW DELHI: The RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) on Tuesday shot a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that the GM Mustard is not indigenous as claimed by the former Delhi University Professor Deepak Pental, besides being toxic.
The SJM has also alleged that data have been manipulated to claim that the GM Mustard would give high yield to get the clearance from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). “The claim that GM Mustard is indigenous is completely untrue. In 2002, Proagro Seed Company (Bayer’s subsidiary), applied for commercial approval for similar construct that Prof. Pental and his team are now promoting as HT Mustard DMH 11.
Bayer’s application at that point of time was turned down because the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said that their field trials did not give evidence of superior yield,” the SJM convenor Ashwani Mahajan has stated in the letter to the Prime Minister, while adding that “the hybridisation of GM Mustard is achieved by means of the two genes barnase and barstar, derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens”. He claimed that “the bar-barstar-barnase gene is a patented technology of the Bayer Crop Science”.
The SJM has argued in the letter that the fact that multi-national company Bayer Corp owns the patent of the genes used in Prof. Pental’s GM Mustard has been deliberately concealed.
Countering the claims of the high yield of the GM Mustard, the SJM in the letter to the PM has stated that “indigenous hybrids according to the data from Rapeseed Mustard Research (DRMR), Bharatpur show that there are several existing hybrid varieties that outperform the GM Mustard”.
The SJM has further raised the health concerns on account of the GM Mustard by stating that it has been engineered with a trait for resistance to BASTA, which is Bayer’s herbicide having one ingredient called glufosinate, besides other poisons as adjuvants and surfactants. “Glufosinate is a neurotoxin. No assessment of Basta residues in mustard was made.
An unscientific statement has been made that the herbicide tolerant trait was used as a marker. But once the Basta resistant trait is introduced, nothing will stop Bayer from selling Basta to farmers through the herbicide resistant traits. Spreading poisons in our farming is a recipe for spreading diseases.
It is suspected that use of Bayer’s herbicide will make land under GM Mustard cultivation and substantially adjoining areas unfit for other crops,” the SJM has claimed in its letter to the Prime Minister.