The Punjab government on Wednesday issued directions to Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) not to conduct further field trials of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop, following the concerns expressed by a civil society group.
“I have asked Financial Commissioner (Development), Punjab, to direct PAU not to go ahead with further field trials of GM mustard crop”, Punjab Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said on Wednesday.
He took this decision after hearing the representation of a civil society group led by ‘Coalition for a GM Free India’ which raised bio-safety and health concerns over the GM mustard crop.
According to co-convener of ‘Coalition for a GM Free India’ Kavitha Kuruganti, scientists of Delhi University had conducted field trials of GM mustard crop in Ludhiana and Bathinda under direct supervision of PAU scientists during November 2014 till March 2015.
“Punjab is the only state in the country where open field trials of GM mustard crop were carried out”, she said.
Sharing concerns of the civil society group, the Minister said the Health Ministry should also carry out trials or tests of the GM crop before it is allowed for commercial cultivation.
“Sarson Da Saag is an important dish in Punjab. And we want that there should not be any adverse impact on health with GM mustard crop. Therefore, the Union Health Ministry should also conduct tests before giving any approval for it,” the Punjab Agriculture Minister said.
He said that the government would like to promote organic farming cultivation in the State.
Meanwhile, Ms. Kuruganti said the Centre should not allow the commercial cultivation of GM mustard crop at any cost.
She said that crop developer Delhi University scientists have approached regulatory body Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for allowing commercial cultivation of GM Mustard crop.
Accusing GEAC of being non-transparent and biased, she said: “It is outrageous that GM food crops are being pushed without adequate safety assessment and transparency. The entire bio safety assessment of this GM mustard is shrouded in secrecy.
“Repeated efforts including RTI applications seeking bio safety dossier of GM mustard have been stonewalled with the regulators declining to share information.”
She said various European countries have already banned the cultivation of GM crops._PTI