Thursday, September 22, 2016

NEWS: ‘Stop GM mustard, give 120 days for feedback’

| TNN | 

JAIPUR: Several eminent citizens, among them winners of the Padma Shri awards, retired Admiral Ramdas, former Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss, Medha Patkar of the National Alliance of People's Movements, Aruna Roy, Shankar Singh and Nikhil Dey of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghatan pleaded with the government to extend the time offered for public feedback on the move to allow commercial cultivation of GM mustard for 120 days after the biosafety dossier is placed in the public domain.

The letter, to Union environment minister Anil Dave, expresses alarm that biosafety clearance has been granted to three GMOs of mustard. "It is apparent from even a preliminary perusal of the matter that neither benefit assessment nor risk assessment has been taken up comprehensively and thoroughly by the regulators," the signatories say.

"The adverse impacts of herbicide tolerant crops including greater agri-chemical usage, more chemical residues in our food and environment, adverse impacts of both GM crop and the linked chemical usage on our health and environment, entrapping farmers in a seed and chemicals market trap, creation of super-weeds etc are well documented," the letter says.

The signatories note that the claims of enhanced yield in GM mustard are unfounded. Besides, there are other means by which oilseeds production can be increased without using transgenic technology, the letter writers assert, adding that risk assessment of the GM varieties has not been done comprehensively.

"Why is the government ready to dabble with a hazardous unneeded technology when there are other solutions that are farmer-controlled, safe, sustainable and affordable," writes Kavitha Kuruganti of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, the lead signatory.

Kuruganti also points out that there is a PIL in the Supreme Court in the matter, and an order is still awaited. The letter writers have asked the government to extend the time offered to the public for feedback to 120 days, and also make it easier to offer such feedback. Besides, the biosafety dossier in the matter had not been placed in the public domain when the earlier announcement of a 30-day window for public feedback was announced.


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