New Delhi | Prominent civil society members Aruna Roy, Medha Patkar and Prashant Bhushan urged the government not to approve the release of GM mustard citing “non-scientific, opaque and deceptive” processes adopted by country’s biotech regulator in studying it.
In a letter to Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave, they said, “We write to you to communicate our rejection of transgenics in our food, farming and environment and to urge you to stop your regulators from providing any regulatory clearances to GMOs and their environmental release.”
“This applies to the current case of GM mustard in particular but also all GM foods,” said the letter written by citizens, which also include former health and agriculture ministers, eminent academics cutting across different disciplines and senior retired bureaucrats.
They referred to the report on GM mustard’s biosafety data submitted by a sub-committee which was constituted by country’s biotech regulator- Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
After the sub-committee examined the data, the report was placed on the Environment Ministry’s website inviting comments from stakeholders within a period of 30 days before the biotech regulator took a decision.
“We urge you to extend the public feedback time to 120 days,” they said.
The report claimed that the hybrid variety did not pose any risk to biodiversity or agro-ecosystem.
“We are alarmed at the non-scientific, opaque and deceptive processes being adopted by the regulators in the name of collecting public feedback on GM mustard,” they said.
They also urged the government to ask the regulator to put out the full biosafety dossier in the public domain for independent scientific scrutiny as has been done with other GMOs in the past.
“And make sure that feedback is collected in all forms without any prescribed formats,” the letter said.
Terming the GMOs as herbicide-tolerant, the letter said the adverse impacts of such crops including greater agri- chemical usage, more chemical residues in food and environment, entrapping of farmers in a seed-and-chemicals market trap and creation of super-weeds are well documented.
“Importantly, in a socio-economic-cultural context where millions of women in India find employment in manual de- weeding, displacing them from existing employment opportunities has huge implications for livelihoods of the poorest in India,” the letter said.