Protests mounting against GM mustard

September 24, 2016 12:00 am | Updated November 01, 2016 08:43 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Environmentalists and farmer unite for a satyagraha on 2 October

: The protests against the move to allow commercial cultivation of GM (Genetically Modified) mustard developed by the University of Delhi is snowballing, with more organisations joining the Government of Kerala in expressing concern over the impact of the new variety on human health and the environment.

Following a decision taken by the State Cabinet last week, the Government of Kerala is preparing a memorandum to be submitted to the Centre, expressing reservations on the move by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for the environmental release of GM mustard.

Call for ban

Official sources said the letter would be submitted to the Minister of State for EFCC Anil Madhav Dave next week.

Environmental organisations and farmers’ associations in Kerala are gearing up for public protests against the introduction of GM mustard in India. Expressing solidarity with the State government, leaders of the Kerala Jaiva Karshaka Samithi, Kerala Paristhithi Aikya Vedi, Thanal, and the Salim Ali Foundation, have decided to stage a satyagraha at all district headquarters in Kerala on October 2 .

At a meeting held in Thrissur on Thursday, leaders of these organisations resolved to launch a campaign against GM mustard on social media. A signature campaign is also being organised.

‘Negative value crop’

Meanwhile, Kisan Ekta, a grouping of farmer associations across the country, has called for a ban on GM mustard by the Central and State governments.

Pointing out that India’s tryst with GM crops had landed cotton farmers in a deep crisis, a joint press note issued by 35 associations said that any attempt to release more transgenic crops in India would endanger not only farmers but the country’s trade, exports and the environment as well.

“GM mustard is a negative value crop while organic mustard will have huge value appreciation that is advantageous for the farmer, trader and consumer. No sensible nation will squander away this advantage,” the statement said.

Countering the argument that GM mustard hybrid would improve crop productivity, Kisan Ekta said it was less productive than at least five different varieties.

The organisation has also urged the government to relaunch the Technology Mission on Oil Seeds, with a focus on organic farming, higher assured prices, and increased protection from cheap imported oil.

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