Gargi Parsai

It will help country retain supremacy in rice exports

  • `Any doubt on the GM-free status of Indian rice will have disastrous consequences'
  • 'The traditional seeds are in danger of getting extinct in favour of GM seeds'

    NEW DELHI: Alarmed at the rejection by the European Union and the Middle-East of American rice reportedly contaminated with traces of genetically modified (GM) rice, the All-India Rice Exporters' Association (AIREA) have called for a ban on open field trials of GM rice in India.

    The Government had recently allowed Monsanto-Mahyco company to conduct limited field trials of GM paddy at 12 centres in seven States including basmati growing States.

    The exporters joined hands with the Bhartiya Kisan Union and the Greenpeace-India to demand that India remain GM rice-free so that it could retain its supremacy in basmati rice exports and its position as number three non-basmati rice exporter in the world. India's rice export market is said to be in the range of Rs 7,500 crore.

    ``We are committed to maintaining the robust and growing market for Indian rice including basmati. Any doubt on the GM-free status of Indian rice (because of permission to Monsanto-Mayhco to conduct open field trials in GM paddy) will have disastrous consequences for the country, industry and the farmers,'' said the exporters here on Tuesday.

    ``Rice is the staple food for a majority of people and if GM rice enters the food chain, the implications on health are unthinkable. India being the Centre of Origin and Centre of Diversity of rice, any contamination can also affect our invaluable gene pool and have a major impact on future development of rice varieties,'' pointed out Rajesh Krishnan of GM-free India. Justifying the burning down of a paddy field in Karnal in which Mahyco had cultivated GM paddy, Yudhvir Singh of BKU said neither the ``pradhan'' of the village nor the farmer was told categorically that GM paddy had been planted in that field.

    ``This is a question of farmers livelihood and the health of the consumers."