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GM will insert dangerous chemical in our Sarson da Saag, don't give eco-clearance: BJP leader writes to Modi

By Our Representative
In a surprise move, Vallabh Kathiria, who once belonged to the anti-Narendra Modi camp in the BJP during the latter's chief ministership of Gujarat, has written to the Prime Minister asking him to reject an application by the Delhi University with the Ministry for Environment, Forests and Climate Change for “environmental release” or commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) mustard hybrid seed.
Former Union minister under AB Vajpayee, one who strongly stood by Modi's bete noire Keshubhai Patel, but later joined hands with Modi, Kathiria has brought together 35 prominent persons from the medical fraternity and written ia letter to the Prime Minister, telling him that "GM mustard happens to be a herbicide-tolerant" seed developed with "nearly Rs 100 crore of our taxpayers’ funds".
"Very often, it is being argued that since it is a public sector product, India should allow it, forgetting that what is inherently unsafe (created through transgenic technology) is bound to be unsafe whether it is from the public sector or private sector", Kathiria, who has been given the task of cow protection under Gujarat government, says.
Among these who have endorsed the letter include Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, MP and former Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare; Padma Bhushan Dr BM Hegde, former vice chancellor, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Karnataka; Padma Bhushan Dr Inderjeet Kaur, All India Pingalwara Society, Amritsar; and Dr. Lalit Nath, former director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi.
"A majority of countries around the world disallow GM crop cultivation due to the various risks associated with this technology and given the fact that this is an living, irreversible technology when released into the environment", the letter, written at a time when strong industry, especially MNC, bodies are lobbying with the Modi government to allow GM seeds, says.
Pointing out that "several reports are available about environmental health crisis that is unfolding in some South American countries after they adopted herbicide tolerant GM crops on a large scale", Kathiria, who is a physician and belongs to Rajkot, say, "In GM crops, the danger is both from the genetic engineering process as well as the chemical/herbicide that is used on the crop."
Insisting that "there is ample scientific evidence available that GM foods result in numerous adverse health impacts starting from allergies, to impaired immunity, organ damage, affecting growth and development of organisms, reproductive health problems, and even carcinogenic effects", the letter says, "Evidence points to the fact that the limited number of tests that were done on Bt brinjal were not taken up for GM mustard safety assessment."
Kathiria further says, "There were no chronic and inter-generational health impact studies done", adding, "The longest test was for sub-chronic toxicity, for 90 days", which was done "without treating the GM mustard as a herbicide tolerant crop."
Kathiria regrets, "Even though the face being projected is that of a public sector institute, even here (for health safety testing), some tests were outsourced to private laboratories. No data has been put out in the public domain and it is unclear why this was so."
In fact, says Kathiria, "There were no health ministry representatives who participated in the appraisal of GM mustard. Further, in the sub-committee created to appraise safety of GM mustard, the one health expert put in had objectionable conflict of interest by virtue of being a board member in industry funded bodies and by virtue of having taken up health safety studies in the institute that he headed (as Director of National Institute of Nutrition)."
The letter underlines, "GM mustard has been genetically engineered by the insertion of bar gene to withstand the application of a weedicide called Glufosinate. In India, MNC Bayer has an active patent on this chemical. The implication of this chemical being sprayed directly on our food are clearly worrisome – mustard leaves are eaten as Sarson da Saag."

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Uma Sheth said…
Padma Bhushan and similar awards are NOT titles. If you inform the reader mention in brackets or with other similar punctuation.

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