GM banana poses a new threat to crop diversity - The New Indian Express

GM banana poses a new threat to crop diversity

Published: 30th April 2013 08:16 AM

Last Updated: 30th April 2013 09:08 AM

The banana diversity of the state, probably the richest in the country, stands threatened with a possible entry of genetically modified banana from Australia through a research collaboration. In view of the threat that can affect the whole country, several Green organisations have called for a ‘No genetically modified Banana’ campaign from May 1.

“Ignoring the many existing alternatives our indigenous biodiversity and knowledge offers, to address the public health emergency of iron deficiency, it is learnt that India’s Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has signed an agreement with Queensland University, Australia, for a research collaboration that will increase the iron content in banana,” said Bijukumar of Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA).

It is also learnt that the Indian Department of Biotechnology has signed an agreement with the University of Queensland to do similar research/field trials over the next 4 to 5 years and launch the GM bananas within 6 to 10 years in India.

“GM bananas are, a waste of time and money, an unnecessary risk and a strategy to take control of the banana in its centre of diversity and the region with highest production and consumption,” says Vandana Shiva, noted Green activist and leader of the campaign. The various organisations that will take part in the campaign include Navdanya, Mahila Anna Swaraj, Diverse Women for Diversity, Initiative for Health and Equity in Society with Guild of Services, Centre for Innovation in Science and Social Action (CISSA) from Kerala, Azadi Bachao Andolan, Appiko, and even Gene Ethics, Australia.

“We have to grow nutrition by growing biodiversity, not industrially ‘fortify’ nutritionally empty food at high cost, or put one or two nutrients into genetically engineered crops. We don’t need these irresponsible experiments, that create new threats to biodiversity and our health, imposed by powerful men in distant places, who are totally ignorant of the biodiversity in our fields and thalis, and who never bear the consequences of their destructive power,” said Vandana Shiva. The campaign leaders alleged that there was a perverse urge among the biotechnology brigade to declare war against biodiversity in its centre of origin. “After the Bt brinjal attempt, GM banana is being introduced to the two countries where banana is a significant crop and has large diversity. One is India, the other is Uganda, the only country where banana is a staple,” they pointed out the irony. Along with the No Genetically Modified Banana Campaign there is also a move to start a movement titled ‘Seeds of Freedom, Gardens of Hope’ to grow GMO free, iron rich, nutrient rich plants.

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