“We are the world’s guinea pigs and are not faring well. Most people who consume genetically modified (GM) crops are not even aware of it,” Frances Moore Lappe from the Small Planet Institute at Massachusetts in USA said, speaking about the large scale consumption of genetically crops in America.
Almost 90 per cent of its crops are GM and more than 70 per cent of processed foods contain GM crops.
Speaking at ‘Bt cotton - web around food, farming, and livestock systems: continental perspectives from Africa and Asia’, a side event of CoP-11 organised by the Deccan Development Society, Lappe, who is also an author, explained that GM crops like Bt cotton have more harmful sides to them than useful. “No safety tests have been done on humans and whatever tests were done on animals did not show good results,” she claimed. Former chairman of Kerala Biodiversity Board VS Vijayan said that the main aim of introducing GM crops such as Bt cotton was to increase productivity and not protect plants from pests. “In fact, if you look at facts, Bt cotton is resistant only to bollworm, and other pesticides have to be used. GM crops are not at all natural,” he explained.
Echoing his views, Lappe added that in America, people were unaware that they were eating pesticide sprayed foods, leading to many health problems.
Dr Ilse Kohler-Rollefson from the League for Pastoral People’s and Indogenous Livestock Development, who studied livestock across India, said that there wasn’t any need for GM crops here as it was a healthy system. Citing an example, she said that China, a chief importer of soy beans a few years ago, was importing 70 per cent of it now. “That is because they are breeding GM pigs, which are fed only GM soy beans,” she concluded.
“There is diverse livestock in India. It is impressive that the government is trying to promote the farming system. But introducing GM crops can cause a lot of damage,” Dr Ilse warned.