The Indian government is facing strong opposition for its decision to allow field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops. The Coalition for a GM-Free India is calling the approvals ‘hasty’ and has asked the Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change to cancel them.
Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) is the economic wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) — the parent body of the BJP party. It has termed the decision of the Narendra Modi BJP central government as a “betrayal of people’s trust.”
Ashwani Mahajan, All India co-convener of SJM says:
“SJM has received the news reports of approval of field trials of GM food crops by Genetically Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), under the Union Ministry of Environment & Forest, with shock, disbelief and anguish.”
The GEAC has reportedly approved 60 out of 70 applications for the field trials of GM crops, despite the Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) already having submitted its report based on sound science and factual data that strongly recommends the stopping of all such field trials .
A statement by the SJM reads:
“People of India who have elected BJP to power are feeling deceived. They had voted BJP to power on the promises the party made to the people of India in its manifesto 2014 and speeches made by the leaders during the election campaign.”
The statement continues:
“SJM wants to remind the government that moratorium on open field trials of GM food crops was the result of long and difficult struggle by people of India including Swadeshi Jagran Manch, farmers, scientific experts, consumers, activists and other stakeholders. The Supreme Court of India has also been of the clear view that no hasty decision in this regard shall be taken that puts the health of people and soil at risk.”
During the previous government, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, which included seven members from BJP, also recommended against the trial of GM crops.
The Coalition for a GM-Free India says:
“When most countries around the world are not adopting this risky technology which has a large number of attendant risks to health, environment, and livelihoods, and when several credible official bodies in India have asked for a stopping of field trials, it is extremely irresponsible that our apex biotechnology regulator has thrown such caution to the winds to approve open air field trials.”