End debate and uncover nexus pushing GM crops
By The New Indian Express
11th August 2012 12:34 AM
The recent report of the parliamentary committee on agriculture observing that adequate tests had not been carried out on Bt Brinjal and the approval committee was under ‘tremendous pressure’ due to an unholy nexus between industry and the political class pressuring scientists to hurriedly introduce genetically-modified (GM) crops in India for reaping a commercial harvest are a grim warning. The government must institute a probe into the charges and put a moratorium on introduction of GM crops till the safety and environmental issues are addressed. The report vindicates the position taken by many state governments such as Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which have disallowed GM crops, including field trials. The fact that only 15 or 16 countries in the world allow GM food crops to be commercially cultivated shows that all is not right with GM crops.
The observations of P M Bhargava, the Supreme Court nominee on the government’s Genetically Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), that the government was reluctant to set up a lab of its own to conduct all the tests, currently done by the companies themselves, and there was pressure to approve Bt Brinjal and other crops are too serious to be brushed aside. Even Arjula Reddy, chairman of the expert committee that approved Bt Brinjal on October 14, 2009, says he was under pressure from the industry and from a minister. The chairman of the parliamentary committee Basudev Acharia, who tabled its report in the Lok Sabha on Thursday, refused to disclose the name of the minister. The minister must be unmasked and questioned.
The argument that GM food is necessary to meet the growing requirement by 2020-’30 is fallacious. If we can increase food production five times to 255 million tonnes, we can also increase it further through alternative methods like organic farming. The committee’s recommendation that there was no need to introduce GM foods must put a stop to this whole controversy forthwith.
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