RSS wing opposes approval for GM crop field trial

RSS wing opposes approval for GM crop field trial

Nod against BJP's election manifesto, claims outfit

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), an arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has strongly criticised the Environment Ministry’s green signal for field trials of certain varieties of Genetically Modified (GM) crops.

In its first show of opposition to the Modi government's decision, the SJM asked the government to put on the hold the approval, reminding it that the party’s election manifesto had promised action in this regard.

SJM co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan said in a statement that the clearance for field trials for 15 Genetically Modified (GM) crops, which include major food crops such as rice, sugarcane, chickpea, brinjal and mustard among others, went against the BJP’s poll manifesto.

Mahajan said: “The people of India who have elected the BJP to power are feeling deceived. They voted for the BJP based on the promises the party made to the people of India in its manifesto and speeches by leaders during election campaign.”

He said the party was emphatic in stating in its manifesto that “GM foods will not be allowed without full scientific evaluation on the long term effects on soil, production, and biological impact on consumers.”

The SJM functionary said neither the government nor the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has disclosed the contents of promised scientific evaluation, and “if any or what changed between April 7, 2014–when BJP released its manifesto–and July 18, 2014, when the field trials of GM food crops were approved.”

Mahajan said the SJM wanted to remind the government that a moratorium on open field trials of GM food crops was the result of a long and difficult struggle by the people of India, including the SJM, farmers, scientific experts, consumer activists and other stakeholders.

“The Supreme Court has also been of the clear view that no hasty decision in this regard shall be taken that puts the health of the people and soil at risk. The apex court-appointed technical expert committee had recommended an indefinite moratorium on the field trials of GM crops till the government came out with a proper regulatory and safety mechanism. That has not been done till date,” he said.

Mahajan recalled that the Parliamentary standing committee on Agriculture, which included BJP members, had also asked for a ban on GM food crops in the country.

He said the government should not rely on the biased and manipulated reports of vested interests among the industry. In a meeting of the GEAC on Friday, the committee took up the proposals pending for over the last year. The committee had not met between March 2013 and March 2014, while it met thrice after March this year.

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