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Swadeshi Jagran Manch to Write to PM Modi Against Nod to GM Mustard

SJM worries the approval will open India to foreign investors.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:May 12, 2017, 3:34 PM IST
Swadeshi Jagran Manch to Write to PM Modi Against Nod to GM Mustard
The government had said it was yet to take a policy decision on the commercial release of GM mustard crop and has been considering suggestions and objections on the issue. (Photo: Reuters)
New Delhi: Unhappy with the nod given to genetically modified mustard in India, the RSS affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch has decided to write to the Prime Minister and Minister for Environment and Forests Anil Dave expressing its concerns.

Questioning the “haste” with which the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the apex body constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, gave its nod to cultivation of GM mustard, SJM’s national co-convener Ashwani Mahajan said, “This only shows how desperate the regulator is. They too have interested parties within their fold. The haste reeks of an attempt to influence the Supreme Court verdict. This is a way of interfering in the court’s proceedings. When the matter is subjudice, why this hurry?” he asked.

“There is no scientific reason to have GM mustard crop, it will be destructive for employment opportunities and biodiversity. The arguments regarding productivity are also false – experts have pointed out that it is not the best way to increase productivity. They are selling it as a swadeshi product but in reality it is a patented product,” Mahajan added.

SJM worries the approval will open India to foreign investors. “It will help multinationals… under the guise of swadeshi, the foreign companies are being given toehold,” Mahajan added.

ALSO READ | GM Mustard Gets Regulator Nod Amid Opposition from RSS-affiliate

The outfit has been critical of Niti Aayog as well. This year, in January, the members held a day long ‘Round Table Conference’ on two years of Niti Aayog, presented dialogue papers on GM technology, health sector and made scathing remarks on how the Aayog is “removed from the ground realities”.

In the ‘Niti Dialogue Paper: Understanding the governance of Niti Aayog with reference to its recommendation for GM technology’, SJM concluded, “It is unfortunate to see what the Aayog has done by supporting the GM technology without doing the ground-level work.”

In India, the only commercialised GM crop is Bt Cotton. According to critics, both industry and the government have deliberately painted a picture of its success saying it has led to an increase in production and the cost of cultivation has gone down. According to SJM, several BT cotton farmers have committed suicide.

The SJM is also preparing white papers on the influence of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation “on public health policy, in general and immunization in particular.” This is being done to “enable the government” in making an informed decision with regards to the public health. The SJM has also raised questions on BMGF’s possible ties with big pharmaceutical companies and expressed concern over “pentavalent vaccine”.

The SJM and another RSS affiliated outfit Bharatiya Kisan Sangh made representations to the government for controlling the monopoly of Monsanto and regulating the cotton seed prices. “Finally, after allowing Monsanto for decades, the government acted and regulated the cotton seed prices,” said a statement from the outfit last month. They have been wary of foreign companies “profiteering at the cost of the farmers even disregarding the law of the land.”

The BKS said the failure of Monsanto’s varieties in India is an indicator that the local germplasm is more important than the Bt trait brought by Monsanto for enhancement of cotton yields. “Through such false propaganda, they have exploited the farmers for about 15 years,” the members maintained.
| Edited by: Swati Sharma
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