NEW DELHI: The demand to stop commercialise GM mustard got louder with nearly 120 scientists writing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against processing of GM mustard environmental release application.
In a letter to Modi and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, they raised strong objection against and deep concerns with regard to the secretive and hurried processing being done.
The environment ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is scheduled to meet Friday to take a final call on GM mustard commercialisation in India. Farmers group have also opposed the move and demanded cancellation of meeting.
The group said that the current processes undertaken by the regulators are actually defying Supreme Court and Central Information Commission Orders in terms of transparency and independence of regulation and would like to warn the government that this will only erode the confidence of society on regulators as well as the scientific establishment in general.
“Proceeding forward in this hurried and secretive fashion, when there are many pending issues related to GM crops and their regulation in India, including examination of the entire biosafety assessment regime and its ability to actually protect India’s environment and citizens’ health from the risks of modern biotechnology, reeks of sinister motives that don’t favour ordinary citizens’ interests,” said the letter signed by 118 scientists.
This particular GMO – GM Mustard hybrid DMH11 developed by the CGCMP of Delhi University – has been a matter of concern from the beginning.
“It is a crop that already has non-GM hybrids available for farmers, and has in the recent past been shown to yield impressively under agro-ecological approaches. Therefore, the very transgenic modification of this crop should have been rejected by the regulators,” they said.
Demanding putting of all data related to biosafety in public domain for scrutiny, they said: “We would also like to see the regulation streamlined urgently, where any application has to be assessed based on the need for a particular GMO, and not processed just because an application has been received. We ask you not to proceed further with this GM mustard environmental release application.”
They questioned reasons behind centre pushing for GM mustard when major mustard growing states have rejected it.
“It is not clear why the regulators are considering processing this application in the first instance, when more basic questions are unaddressed. We understand that the main funder of this DMH11 R&D project has withdrawn support. This makes us wonder if the regulators have asked for reasons of the same, since they could have relevance for the regulatory processes underway,” they added.