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Swadeshi Jagran Manch Appeals PM Modi to Act Against Monsanto

Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya on Friday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against international agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto on account of allegedly illegal introduction of herbicide-tolerant Roundup-ready Flex (RRF) Bt Cotton.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:April 7, 2017, 10:19 PM IST
Monsanto logo
In this file photo, Monsanto logo is displayed on a screen. (Photo: Reuters)

New Delhi: Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) and Vandana Shiva's Navdanya came together on Friday, World Health Day, to raise alarm on health hazards of Genetically Modified Organism-based (GMO) crops. They urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against Monsanto, international agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology giant, on account of allegedly illegal introduction of herbicide-tolerant Roundup-ready Flex (RRF) Bt Cotton.

Monsanto spokesperson in India denied the allegations and said the company conducts business in a "transparent, ethical manner and in adherence with the laws of the land." The members of SJM and Navdanyasaid Roundup is a glyphosate-based herbicide that has been declared a "probable carcinogen" by the World Health Organization (WHO) and is banned in many countries.

Ashwani Mahajan, national co-convener of SJM said samples submitted by farmers from several states — Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Maharashtra, Odisha, and Gujarat — were tested by Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR). "Presence of RRF Bt Cotton was found," he said.

Roundup, a glyphosate-based brand is used for killing weeds and other grasses which compete with the crop. Vandana Shiva cited a WHO report which declared gylophosate-based herbicide a "probable carcinogen".

Monsanto India spokesperson said, "Glyphosate is one of the most widely used and comprehensively evaluated herbicides with a 40-year history of safe use." The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) as recently as March 2017 after a rigorous and comprehensive assessment of the safety data on glyphosate, affirmed glyphosate is safe and not a carcinogen. ECHA’s conclusions are highly regarded within and outside Europe as an important reference for chemical regulation.

The activists demanded a moratorium for all GM crops for 10 years until a robust, independent biosafety assessment is institutionalised.

When asked, Monsanto India spokesperson told News18, "Technologies introduced by us have been subject to rigorous regulatory evaluations over the years and have been approved by the country's regulators."

"As consumers ourselves, the safety of our products is paramount to each of us who work at Monsanto and our company is built on a foundation of science," the spokesperson added.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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