Skip to main content

Organic farming in India wll be jeopardised with commercialisation of GM mustar: Senior economists write to Modi

Sudarshan Iyengar
Counterview Desk
Following an open letter by Dr Vallabh Kathiria, former Union minister under AB Vajpayee and BJP leader from Rajkot, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to allow environmental clearance to genetically modified (GM) mustard seed, several top economists have asked Modi to stop its commercial cultivation.
Led by Prof Sudarshan Iyengar, former vice chancellor, Gujarat Vidyapith, ex-president, Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE), and Gandhian, the letter has been endorsed by tens of economists, who claim to have been engaged in "issues of farm livelihoods, food security and related matters."
"We are writing with concern about the recommended 'environmental release' of GM mustard by regulators in Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India", the letter says, adding, Supreme Court hearing on the issue makes it clear that "the Centre is keen on authorising this “environmental release”/commercial cultivation of GM mustard".
"The regulators and promoters are stating that GM mustard has been successfully evaluated for food and environmental safety as well as for agronomic superiority", the letter says, adding, "However, there have also been many counter-arguments questioning the testing and appraisal procedures."
Wondering how could the crop developers "themselves evolve test protocols and conduct tests themselves", with "no long term testing" having taken place "on health or environmental front", the letter claims, "GM mustard has not been proven to be a superior hybridisation or pollination control technology as compared to a non-transgenic hybridisation/pollination control technology called CMS (cytoplasmic male sterility) technology."
Pointing out that "no such testing has been done that compared GM mustard against non-transgenic technologies of pollination control", the letter says, "In majority of countries around the world which grow rapeseed/mustard, seeds used are non-transgenic hybrids."
As regards the argument of agronomic superiority, about which Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) has made "claims", and about which Kathiria has especially stressed, the letter does not agree with the view that that GM mustard's higher yields would "bring down India’s edible oil imports."
Pointing towards "counter evidence" on "unacceptable and unreliable testing of GM mustard by using protocols that were evolved by the crop developers not adhering to the norms followed by all other public sector scientists of the country", the letter underlines, "Government of India has admitted in the Supreme Court in an affidavit in October 2016, that GM mustard has not been claimed to out-yield non-GMO hybrids".
The letter quotes a sub-committee ofGenetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), responsible for safety appraisal of GM mustard, as saying, “The yield comparison with national and local checks which has commercial use applications is beyond the mandate of the assessment” (Para 5.2 of final report of Sub-Committee of the GEAC dated 1-11-2016)."
The letter fears, there is "likelihood of displacement of rural workers from manual de-weeding for daily or piece rate wages, because with an herbicide tolerant crop, farmers will spray weedicides on the crop rather than employ labourers for manual de-weeding." De-weeding is an important source of employment for poor rural women mostly. Such “weeds” are also sources of fodder for livestock.
It further says, "Organic farming will be jeopardised with the commercialisation of GM mustard. This is a sunrise sector, on which the government is also investing through large flagship schemes, and a niche area in which India has the potential to be the world leader".
The letter has been endorsed, among others, by Dr C Rammanohar Reddy, former editor of Economic & Political Weekly; Dr Indira Devi, Director, Centre for Excellence in Environmental Economics, Kerala Agriculture University, Thrissur; Dr Ranjit Singh Ghuman, Nehru SAIL Chair Professor, Centre for Research in Rural & Industrial Development (CRRID), Chandigarh; Prof Atul Sood, Professor, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Kamal Nayan Kabra, Former Professor, Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi; among others.

Comments

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Modi wants Pak govt be held responsible for JeM terror strike: World doesn't agree

By Sandeep Pandey*
I went to participate in a candle light homage paying event at Dr BR Ambedkar's statue organised by about 200 Dalit students on Hazratganj main crossing in Lucknow on February 16, 2019 evening, two days after the dastardly terrorist act in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was killed.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”

Anti-liquor march: Women padyatris "resolve" to occupy Karnataka state assembly

By Abhay, Swarna Bhat*
At a huge public convention held at Siddaganga Mutt on the Republic Day, January 26, 2019, in the presence of Sanehalli Sri Panditaradhya Swamiji, padyatris of the Madya Nishedha Andolana decided to intensify the ongoing liquor ban movement. A resolution passed at the convention, in which thousands of rural women joined in, the marching women declared that on reaching Bengaluru will “occupy Vidhan Soudha” on Mahatma Gandhi’s martyrdom day, January 30.