The Centre has done well to clarify that a final decision on allowing field trials of genetically modified crops will be taken only after a due consultative process. Fears about an imminent approval had arisen in view of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee giving a green signal to the field trials of 15 GM crops. The ruling party had given an assurance in its election manifesto that such trials would not be allowed without taking the stakeholders into confidence. The time has, in fact, come for the government to make a categorical declaration that GM crops would not be allowed in India. This will settle the issue once and for all. There are many reasons to do so.
If field trials are allowed, it will benefit only some multinational companies, whose only motive is profit. Recently, an organisation of environmental scientists in the US has appealed to the doctors to advise their patients that they should not eat GM crops, as they are found to cause many ailments. The greatest argument in favour of GM crops was that it would increase productivity but studies have shown that such claims are fictitious. In fact, conventional and traditional crops can give better yields if scientific methods of cultivation are followed. The herbicidal properties of the crops have been found to be exaggerated. They also cause many side-effects.
In spite of all this, companies like Monsanto have succeeded in influencing public opinion to the point that many people now believe that the solution to the feeding of the ever-growing population is promoting GM crops. Little do they know that once GM crops are allowed, Indian farmers will remain perpetually dependent on the multinationals for seeds. Not only that, those multinationals will be able to control Indian agriculture. It will be like surrendering sovereignty. They are good at producing scientific papers that show GM crops in a good light. In the past such studies had shown that use of tobacco was good for health! It is time the government called their bluff and consigned GM crops to the wastebasket.