Do Not Allow GM Mustard Seeds To Be Planted in India: Swadeshi Jagran Manch
Moneylife Digital Team 28 October 2022
Alleging that the regulators are joining hands with GM (genetically modified) crop developers and are seriously compromising the regulatory regime, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch has demanded that GM mustard seeds should never be allowed to be planted in India.
Dr Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convenor of the Manch, in a letter to Bhupender Yadav, Union minister for environment, forest & climate change, says, "Swadeshi Jagran Manch has all along been opposing this dangerous and unneeded GM mustard being brought in through the backdoor as a 'public sector' genetically modified organism (GMO). It is because of our raising of the key issues of concern about this GM mustard that the then Union environment minister has kindly intervened and took the right decision of keeping in abeyance the regulatory clearance in its operationalisation and seeking a review. However, the regulatory body, predictably, did not take up any such review worth the name. The regulators are joining hands with GM crop developers and are time and again compromising the regulatory regime quite seriously, and they have done so with this GM mustard also."
India is exporting food products worth nearly Rs5 lakh crore to the rest of the world. "As our country has not allowed GM in food crops, a non-GM tag on our exports helps us in fetching orders from European nations, where GM is banned. The moment GM enters into our food crops, that non-GM tag would be lost and our country would lose on export front. You will appreciate that our country is striving hard to increase export of agri products, to earn valuable foreign exchange, and more importantly raising farmers' income," the letter says.
According to the Manch, the condition of royalty payment by the developer to Bayer has also been kept a secret. "Not only that GMO mustard is based on Bayer's patented Barnase-barstar-barnase gene system for which royalty shall be paid, it is said to promote usage of Glufosinate, a herbicide from which Bayer will benefit the most through its existing brands. Therefore it is evident beyond doubt that the nation would be seriously dependent upon MNC for usage of patents and import of herbicides causing a greater outflow of valuable Foreign exchange from the country."
Swadeshi Jagran Manch also pointed out that GM mustard has never been tested as a herbicide-tolerant crop at all, while even the development of this glufosinate-tolerant crop was in violation of India's pesticide regulations. It alleges, "The yield data was rigged and evidence about this has been shared with the regulators by alert citizens and experts. Importantly, major mustard-growing states of India were opposed to GM crops in general, and this particular GM mustard and had not even allowed for field trials to take place."
"...the claim that GM Mustard is Swadeshi and has been developed in India is completely untrue...As is well known the hybridisation of GM Mustard is achieved by means of the two genes barnase and barstar, derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens. The bar-barstar-barnase gene is a patented technology of Bayer Crop Science. Bayer is not a swadeshi Company. How can a product patented in their name is termed as Swadeshi," the letter says.
The Manch also refuted the claim that GM mustard will increase domestic production and reduce India's import dependence. It says, "The GMO mustard has no yield advantage compared to Indigenous hybrids. Data from Rapeseed Mustard Research (DRMR), Bharatpur, clearly show that the claim of professor Deepak Pantel that his GM mustard would increase yield by 26% is deceptive and misleading as there are several existing hybrid varieties that outperform the transgenic variety DMH-11."
"In fact, for reasons best known to the developer, the existence of better-performing non-GM hybrids from his own stable has been concealed and he has chosen to falsify the data by comparing the yield performance of GM mustard with some of very old varieties having lesser yield. Fact of the matter is that existing non-GM verities of mustard give at least 25% more yield than what in claimed prof Pental's GM mustard," it added.
According to Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, mustard is a very important crop in Indian agriculture and the food chain. For lakhs of bee-keepers in the country, mustard crop is a source of livelihood, while the mustard crop itself benefits from honeybees' activity in terms of yield improvements, it says, adding, "Mustard is eaten directly too in Indian cuisine and mustard oilseed cake is used in organic soil amendments. The fact that such a crop has been exploited for any genetic modification is in itself highly objectionable, and this has happened with DBT funding at that."
3 months ago
These Jagran Manch are causing insomnia should be sedated
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