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GM Mustard: Civil society groups calls for scientific scrutiny

It said that the health and environment assessment report is not sufficient to reach at a conclusion.

Published: 06th September 2016 08:59 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th September 2016 08:59 PM   |  A+A-

2016-08-25T092134Z_1_LYNXNPEC7O0G3_RTROPTP_3_INDIA-AGRICULTURE

NEW DELHI: Civil society groups Tuesday raised serious concerns over environment ministry subcommittee report giving go ahead to GM Mustard, saying the health and environment assessment report is not sufficient to reach at a conclusion as details of the study protocols or data generated has not been put in public domain for independent scientific scrutiny.

The Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) wrote a letter to Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave and ministry’s genetic approval committee head, saying the decision was taken in hurry after two meetings in 15 days' time, with the third meeting on August 11.

“The document being put out, which is not the same as the biosafety dossier, and does not have details of the study protocols or data generated, on which feedback is being sought. The current biosafety assessment itself appears quite inadequate in establishing the safety of a GMO’s release into the environment,” said Kavitha Kuruganti of ASHA, an alliance of several NGOs.

The subcommittee has found that no harm to environment and health is posed by the mustard hybrid, DMH-11 developed by Delhi University former Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental led Centre for Genetic Manipulation and Crop Plants (CGMCP).

Given that any environmental release of GMOs is also a release into a “socio-politico-economic space”, the letter pointed out that risk assessment should be beyond technical aspects and should adequately and comprehensively assess impacts that are socio-cultural-economic, and begin with a needs and alternatives assessment.

“As you are aware, transgenic technology is also about livelihood security, trade security, seed and food sovereignty. Socio-Economic Considerations are an integral part of Risk Assessment even in the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol to which India is a signatory,” it added. 

The civil society groups also wanted the government to assess that whether there are mechanisms or regimes in place which ensure that choices of farmers and consumers are protected and upheld like segregation and labeling, liability-redressal-remediation and ensuring that state government decisions are not violated by any decision that the Central Regulators take.

In the absence of any other inter-ministerial as well as State-Centre level institution to “regulate” on these grounds, and given that GEAC is regulating transgenics without well worked out policy directives, and also given that many of these matters are sub-judice, the group requested GEAC not to give approvals or safety certificates for open release of GMOs including for field trials.

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