I have not approved such trials: Union Minister

Confronted by farmers on the issue of permission given for field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops, Union Minister for Environment and Forests M. Veerappa Moily on Tuesday said that “he only examined the file concerned and returned it without approving any such trials.”

Mr. Moily was reacting to farmers associated with the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and South Indian Co-ordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements (SICCFM) who marched onto his residential premises here and staged a dharna to condemn permission granted to regulators to go aheadwith clearances for GM field trials.

The farmers’ protest was in response to the announcement by Mr. Moily at a press conference in New Delhi on February 27 that field trials of GM crops, including GM varieties of rice, wheat, maize, would be permitted.

“If the Minister’s statement is true, then the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which is meeting on March 21 to give further approvals for GM crop trials, should desist from giving clearances as the former Minister Jayanti Natarajan’s orders will still be binding on it,” said KRRS president K.T. Gangadhar.

He pointed out that Ms. Natarajan had, in her letter to the Prime Minister on July 9, 2013, said that it was important to await the judgment of the Supreme Court in the matter, and had accordingly issued directions to the authorities concerned.

KRRS working president Chukki Nanjundaswamy warned that farmers would come back in greater numbers to resume the protest.

“If what he is saying is correct, then we want him to give instructions to the regulators not to clear any field trials in the upcoming meeting of GEAC,” she said.

The KRRS and SICCFM declared that they will not only step up the campaign against GM crops and their promoters in the coming days but will also make this an election issue.

They also urged Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to desist from permitting any field trials of GM crops in the State.

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