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'Unscientific, irresponsible, shocking': NGO on Govt of India approval to GM mustard

By Our Representative 

GM mustard approved by India’s top regulators “will be resisted strongly”, the Coalition for a GM-Free India has warned the Government of India (GoI). Calling the clearance given by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) “unscientific and irresponsible”, the top organic farming advocacy network said, the clearance, was given for the “second time, that too without a single additional basis for decision making.”
The Coalition, in a statement, said, the approval “will be met with serious resistance by citizens all over India”, adding, it is confident and hopeful that “right-thinking state governments will stand on the side of public interest in this matter.”
“What has happened is shocking in its lack of scientificity or responsible regulation. Nothing has changed from 2017 when GEAC gave its approval to GM mustard commercial cultivation, when the regulator gave a green signal but the decision was not cleared by the ‘competent authority’ i.e., Minister/Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change’”, the statement said.
It regretted, “Only two additional tests have been prescribed by GEAC in a perfunctory and irresponsible fashion since then as though the debate about GM mustard was about these two aspects alone. What is worse, the crop developer did not do these studies and pleaded with the regulators against such studies.”
The statement continued, “GM mustard got to this stage in the first instance by the regulatory body colluding with the crop developer in circumventing biosafety assessment in numerous ways”.
It said, "The latest is that GEAC, after conceding to the request of the crop developer applicant who wanted its herbicide tolerant food crop to be released in India, set up a so-called Expert Committee in August 2022. This Expert Committee was headed by a Department of Biotechnology (DBT) scientist, which in itself is an objectionable conflict of interest, given that DBT is the funder of GM mustard.”
Pointing out that “other GM crop developers and proponents were also drawn in”, the statement said, “Ignoring numerous serious concerns around GM mustard, this Expert Committee gave the excuse that GEAC needed to approve GM mustard. This compromises biosafety in serious and objectionable ways.”
Asking the Government of India “not to move forward in allowing this dangerous herbicide tolerant food crop in India”, the Coalition said, in a recent letter to the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, it has summed up *the various issues with GM mustard, irresponsible processing of the application by the regulators so far, and the demand that the Government stop GEAC in its tracks.



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