Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Press Release: TN farmer leaders and Safe Food Activists demand GM Regulators meet to be called off

Chennai, February 3rd, 2016: Slamming the Central Government for allowing regulators in the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change for scheduling a secret meeting on February 5th 2016 for considering the approval of GM mustard, farmers organisations across the state lashed out at the double-tongued ways of the Centre. ‘The Modi government pays tokenism to upholding the federal polity in the country – however, disregarding that state governments and the public do not want GM crops in our food, farming and environment, they are moving ahead with the processing of GM mustard application, that too in a highly secretive and hurried fashion. This is completely unacceptable’, they said. Disregarding the fact that all mustard-growing states including the BJP rules ones like Rajasthan, MP have already rejected the transgenic mustard, as well as a notice on a contempt petition from the Supreme Court, MoEFCC regulators in Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) are slated to meet on Friday, 5th February, to take a final call on Delhi University’s GM mustard.
“This regulatory body GEAC is known to have people associated with MNCs like Monsanto, in addition to a scientist from the very institute which has applied for GM mustard commercialization! Such objectionable conflict of interest is allowed despite Supreme Court orders asking for independent experts to be included, because it suits the vested interests in the government. It is also important to note that Government of India is stubbornly, for reasons best known to itself, proceeding without putting out all biosafety data in the public domain. Once again, this is in violation of Supreme Court and Central Information Commission orders. Doors of both these institutions have been knocked to ensure implementation of the earlier orders, but GEAC is brazenly going ahead. It only makes us wonder wherefrom is the government under such immense pressure to process this GMO?”, said Ananthoo of Safe Food Alliance.
Recalling the similarity between Bt brinjal and the GMO in question in the current instance, a GM mustard hybrid (DMH11) created by Delhi University, Selvam of Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation said, “In the case of both brinjal and mustard, our native diversity is at stake since India is a Centre of Diversity for both. Both are food crops and mustard leaves are also eaten more or less directly without much processing. In both these GMOs, viable and feasible alternatives exist, which are sustainable and farmer-controlled. Both are used in Ayurveda and also have a great socio-cultural significance for people in our state. How can we allow mustard to be genetically modified and take a huge irreversible risk, when there is absolutely no need for the same? This GM mustard has a male sterility trait, which is bound to spread to other non-GM mustard plants also, and this has immediate implications for farmers’ production. Further, it also has a herbicide tolerant trait, which will increase chemical overload in our agriculture, which will come back to affect the health of all life forms. Such herbicide tolerance will also take away employment opportunities for the poorest in rural India. These are dangerous technologies to deploy, and this has been done so that seed manufacturers can do seed production more easily. This has nothing for farmers since non-GM mustard hybrids are already available in the market. We reject this GMO completely”.
Activists and leaders including Dr. Shivaraman of Poovulagin Nanbargal, Vellaiyan of Tamil Nadu Traders Association, Vettavalam Manikandan of Thamizaga Vivasayigal Sangam, Pamayan of Thalanmai Uzhavar Iyakkam and Radhika Rammohan, Consumer activist warned the Centre that the government will have to face the same fate as they did when they pushed ahead with the Land Ordinance despite huge opposition. “The government is underestimating the resistance against GM crops in the country, amongst various stakeholders including ordinary public, the ultimate consumers of this toxic technology. Prakash Javadekar, the Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change is also ignoring the appeal by tens of thousands of citizens to him by allowing GEAC to hold its meeting and routinely process this GMO application. We warn them not to move ahead with this GEAC meeting on February 5th, in their own interest”, they said. They also appreciated the correct stand being taken by the state government in this matter, and urged it to continue protecting the best interests of citizens and the environment.
All mustard growing states in the country have already come out with statements rejecting GM mustard for their state.
For more information on GM mustard DMH11, please refer to:
Contact: Ananthoo: 9444166779; Pamayan: 9842048317; Selvam: 9443663562; Dr. Shivaraman : 9444027455
Signed :
1. Ananthoo, Safe Food Alliance2. Selvam, Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation
3. Pamayan, Thalanmai Uzhavar Iyakkam
4. Dr Shivaraman, Poovulagin Nanbargal
5. Ram, Samanvaya
6. Sree Devi, Organic Farmer and consumer activist
7. Gomathinayagam, President-Vivasaya Seva Sangam
8. Radhika Rammohan, Consumer activist

Note: Also attached letter to Minister of Environment and Forests, Mr.Prakash Javadekar from CPI MP Mr. D. Raja


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