GM mustard: Activists step up campaign ahead of SC hearing

GM mustard: Activists step up campaign ahead of SC hearing
Ahead of the Supreme Court hearing on GM Mustard, anti-GM activists have made fervent pleas to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against giving the nod for its commercial cultivation.

A group of doctors, including two union health ministers – Anbumani Ramadoss and Vallabhbhai Kathiria and an anti-GM advocacy group have written to the Prime Minister over the past few days cautioning against the “inherently unsafe” transgenic mustard developed by a group of Delhi University researchers.

“...we write to you now to request you to urgently reject this GM mustard commercialization application. This is an unsafe and unneeded GMO and India’s citizens and environment should not be forced to face the risks and dangers of this GM mustard,” according to the letter signed by 35 doctors.

The Coalition for GM-Free India said it has learnt that the GEAC and its sub-committee, which undertook the safety appraisal of GM mustard crop, are proposing that it should be allowed for commercial planting in India but with “certain conditions”.

“The regulators have ignored all valid scientific evidence presented to it with regard to the lack of benefit and safety of GM mustard crop,” Kavitha Kuruganti, co-convenor of the coalition said in the letter to the Prime Minister.

The Supreme Court had on July 24 asked the government to apprise it by Friday of any adverse impact of the commercial release of GM mustard crop. The apex court is expected to hear the matter on Monday.

The apex regulator, GEAC, appears to be couching its "faulty and dangerous" decision in the garb of laying down certain conditions for permission to commercialise GM mustard crop, Kuruganti alleged.

“India has already witnessed a farcical conditional approval in the case of Bt cotton,” Kuruganti claimed, adding there was no basis on which “we can depend on either the pesticides regulators or gene technology regulators in this country to create and implement a sound regulation that fulfils the very mandate of regulation”.

In the case of both “insecticides”, including herbicides, under the Insecticides Act 1968, as well as GMOs under the Environment Protection Act 1986, the mandate of regulation, is to protect citizens from risks posed by these technologies, she said.

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