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RSS Outfits Oppose GM Crop Trials, Govt Says No Decision Yet

Two RSS-linked outfits today met Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and claimed the clearance given by biotech regulator for field trials of genetically-modified crops has been put on hold but the government said no decision has been taken.

Representatives of Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kissan Sangh met Javadekar and sought a ban on field trials of GM crops of certain varieties of rice, brinjal and cotton among others.

They apprised him about their concerns over the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) clearing earlier this month 15 proposals for confined field trials for rice, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton.

They claimed the minister has assured them that the decision about field trials of GM crops has been "put on hold".

"The Minister assured the delegation that the decision about the field trials of GM Crops has been put on hold by the government," All-India Co-convener of the Manch Ashwani Mahajan said.

When contacted, Javadekar confirmed the meeting but asserted that the government has not taken any decision on the contentious issue.

"Government has not taken any decision on the issue. Government will not take any decision in haste," he said.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had earlier this month cleared 15 proposals for confined field trials for rice, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton.

The delegation reminded the Minister that Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture in its report on GM food crops - prospects and impacts, tabled in Parliament on August 9, 2013 has clearly recommended the 'stopping of all field trials under any garb'.

The Manch and Sangh members told the Minister that it is "not advisable" to allow GM crops without proper scientific evaluation about their probable long-term impact on human health and soil.

They said, "the technology, which involves introducing a 'foreign' gene, is dangerous because once introduced, it is irreversible.... Once you have a GM crop, you cannot reverse the process if you find that it is causing harm."

They contended there is no scientific study to prove that GM technology does increase productivity, as is claimed by the promoters of the technology. They also pointed out that environmental costs might outweigh any benefit that introduction of such a technology brings.

The delegation told the Minister that there is a major issue of food security of the nation attached to this issue.

The Manch urged the Minister that government should not rely on the biased and manipulated reports of vested interests among the industry and institute enquiries about the likely impact of GM food crops on soil, human and other species' health to ensure that no harm is done to traditional gene pool and biodiversity of the nation, soil, food security and health of the people of India.

The two organisations are closely associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

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OUTLOOK 29 July, 2014
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