Environmentalists Oppose Field Trials of GM Crops
CHENNAI: Even as the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, a regulatory panel under the environment ministry recommended field trial for 13 genetically modified crops last month, Poovulagin Nanbargal, a movement by environmentalists in the city has raised strong objections citing that such crops would harm both the environment and human health.
Demanding that genetically modified crops itself should be banned in the country, the environmentalists recalled the controversy surrounding bt brinjal and how the parliamentary standing committee on agriculture rejected the idea of GM crops in India.
“The Environment Minister has said that the approval is by GEAC and does not automatically amount to the government allowing trials to resume. But we should know that field trials itself is the last part of a study. Only after it is proven non-toxic, can it go for field trials. We don’t need GM crops, it is not going to help in increasing the yield,” said Dr G Sivaraman of Poovulagin Nanbargal.
The environmentalists felt that there was an ulterior motive behind the field trail recommendation and said that it would benefit the companies that manufacture the seeds if approved for commercial use. “Bt Cotton was approved in 2002. Today, 96 per cent of Indian cotton seeds are from a private company. One kilogram of cotton is as much as `3,000. Then imagine what would be the price if there is GM food crops,” Sivaraman said. The environmentalists said that there are 450 published articles which talk about the health hazards they may cause.
They also thanked the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for imposing a ban on GM field crops and field trials with foresight and said that world over many countries including Australia, Japan and 13 countries in the European Union have banned these crops. “The World Health Organisation says that it would cause allergy. The government should first look at the welfare of the people in such cases,” the environmentalist said.