Activists, farmers and the public came together for a programme ‘Say no to GMO’ organized by Aakam Rural Education and Health Trust, Cure Trust and Research Centre and the Gandhi Memorial Museum on the ills of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) here on Saturday.

“The use of these modified crops is slowly increasing across the State in Erode, Tiruchi, Madurai, Chennai and Coimbatore though it is not officially approved. Most farmers are taking to these crops since the yield for the first few years is extremely promising,” said Shankar Narayan, founder of the Aakam Trust. Academic scholars who were present at the event said that the increased use of these crops would lead to health issues and would result in the boom of medicines to treat the same which would become a vicious corporate cycle.

“The manufacture and sale of such modified seeds has become a corporate business with no concern for the health concerns it causes. The public largely remain unaware of what they are consuming or where the produce they buy comes from and this is worrying,” said G. Velmurugan, a Ph.D scholar with the Madurai Kamaraj University.

R. Karthikeyan, a research fellow, pointed out that GMO labelling was yet to pick up in the country which meant that the public remained in the dark about the produce they purchased. “While diseases and disorders increase, these crops throw the ecosystem out of balance as well,” he added.

The speakers addressed the audience on various issues concerning the ill-effects of these crops to human wellness as well the environment. A few farmers present strongly contested these allegations as well.

“We are currently getting good yields from the seeds which ensure financial security and only if we are successful farmers can we expect the future generation to boldly step into farming,” a farmer from Melur said.

“A complete shift to natural or organic farming hence puts us in jeopardy of losing out on financial stability which will force us to sell our lands for real estate development,” he pointed out.

Solutions discussed in the meeting included an initiative to make natural and organic farming into a State policy.

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