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India govt puts GM crop trials on holdqrcode

Jul. 31, 2014

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Jul. 31, 2014
A delegation of the two organisations met Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday to convey their protest against the green signal given by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on July 18 for field trials of 15 GM crops, including rice, mustard, cotton, chickpea and brinjal. 
Javadekar assured them that "the decision about field trials of GM crops had been put on hold," a statement issued by SJM co-convenor Ashwani Mahanjan said.
The delegation reminded the minister that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in its report, "GM food crops: Prospects and Impacts", tabled in Parliament on August 9 last, had clearly recommended stopping of all field trials under any garb.
They also told Javadekar that the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee, consisting of eminent scientists from relevant fields, in their final report had highlighted the inherent risks associated with open release of GM crops and the absolute lack of regulatory mechanism in India. 
The two organisations said it was not advisable to allow GM crops without proper scientific evaluation of the probable long-term impact on human health and soil.
This is because the technology, which involves introducing a 'foreign' gene, is dangerous, as once introduced, it is irreversible. "In other words, once you have a GM crop, you cannot reverse the process if you find that it is causing harm. Further, there is no scientific study to prove that GM technology does increase productivity, as is claimed by the promoters of the technology," Mahajan said.
The RSS-affiliated bodies also told Javadekar that the environmental costs might outweigh any benefits that the introduction of such a technology might bring.
Mahajan said the SJM urged the minister that the government should not rely on the "biased and manipulated" reports of vested interests while favouring enquiries into the likely impact of GM food crops on soil, human and other species to ensure that no harm is done to traditional gene pool /biodiversity of the nation, soil and  food security. 
Javadekar confirmed the meeting with the RSS-affiliated bodies but held that the government has not taken any decision on the issue. "Government has not taken any decision on the issue. It will not take any decision in haste," he said.
The GEAC's decision to allow field trials of 15 GM crops had also been criticised by parties such the DMK and activists opposed to the introduction of such crops in India.

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