Greens challenge claims on biosafety of GM mustard

September 17, 2016 12:00 am | Updated November 01, 2016 07:07 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

NEW DELHI, 05/02/2016: Activists of Satyagrahis protesting against GM Mustard outside the Ministry of Environment and Forest in New Delhi on February 05, 2016.  
Photo: R.V. Moorthy

NEW DELHI, 05/02/2016: Activists of Satyagrahis protesting against GM Mustard outside the Ministry of Environment and Forest in New Delhi on February 05, 2016. Photo: R.V. Moorthy

: Accusing the Union government of cutting corners for the environmental release of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard developed by the University of Delhi, environmental activists have expressed concern over the impact of the new variety on human and animal health, biodiversity and the environment.

In a response submitted to the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the city-based environmental organisation Thanal said the hybrid variety of GM mustard was not needed, unsafe and unsustainable. It accused the committee of thrusting a toxic product on the people, disregarding its impact on future generations.

The letter addressed to Amita Prasad, Chair, GEAC, pointed out that GEAC had sought public feedback on the new variety without releasing the full biosafety data. “Only the Assessment of Food and Environmental Safety (AFES) document has been published on the official website. It does not have details of the study protocols or data generated, on which feedback is being sought.”

Describing GM mustard as a Trojan Horse for other GMOs, the Coalition for a GM-free India, an informal network of advocacy groups, has alleged that the field tests were fraudulent, unscientific, inadequate and unreliable. It said there was evidence that various tests required to assess risks and impact had not been performed and the claims of yield increase were rigged.

A public interest document issued by the group said the government was seeking the environmental release of GM mustard without declaring it as a herbicide tolerant (HT) crop. “Use of HT crops results in more herbicide use and higher toxic residues in food, it prevents mixed cropping, and damages crops in neighbouring farms.”

The coalition said the biotech regulator had allowed the crop developers to prescribe test protocols for themselves and failed to publish the results for public scrutiny.

Calling for the publication of the full biosafety data on the website, Programme Director, Thanal, R.Sridhar said, “The government cannot expect every citizen to visit the ministry to access the data. Why have all these restrictions? What is the government hiding?”

Noting that the 30 days given for submission of feedback was totally inadequate, Mr. Sridhar demanded extension of the deadline to 90 days from the day the full biosafety dossier was published on the website.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.