THE SANGH Parivar has opposed the move by a government committee to grant approval for field trials of genetically modified mustard, claiming it is “neither Swadeshi, nor safe”. RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has also urged the government to take cognizance of the committee’s action when it knows there is so much opposition to GM mustard introduction.
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Union Environment Ministry has approved seed production “prior to commercial release” of India’s first indigenously developed transgenic hybrid mustard. It opens up possibilities for India’s first genetically modified (GM) food crop by farmers.
The country’s regulator for GM organisms, at its meeting on October 18, recommended the “environmental release” of the transgenic mustard hybrid DMH-11, developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University.
“The GEAC has been making such recommendations since 2016. They had first recommended for commercial release of GM mustard. Earlier also, during this government, field trial approvals were given by this committee for some other GM crops. They were not approved by the ministry. The government must not approve this also. We have opposed it earlier and we continue to oppose it. But the government must take note of GEAC actions as to why it comes up with such approvals when there is so much opposition to GM mustard for legitimate reasons,” SJM convenor Ashwani Mahajan told The Indian Express.
“GM mustard is neither Swadeshi nor safe. It is neither good for health nor for environment. It is herbicide tolerant mustard and so there will be greater use of herbicides which have been proven to be carcinogenic. How can the GEAC give such an approval when it is proven that glyphosate is carcinogenic?”
The SJM has been steadfast in its opposition to GM mustard. It had similarly issued statements in 2017 and even written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to withdraw the permission given in “undue haste” to cultivate GM mustard crop, insisting that it is “unscientific, toxic and anti-biodiversity”.