New Delhi, 21 July 2014: The Central government is facing strong opposition from various corners for its decision to allow field trial of different genetically modified (GM) crops. The Coalition for a GM-Free India termed the approval ‘hasty’ and asked the Minister for Environment, Forests & Climate Change to cancel it. Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), the economic wing of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – the parent body of ruling BJP, termed the decision of the Narendra Modi government as ‘betrayal of people’s trust’.
“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,” Dr. Ashwani Mahajan, All India co-convener of SJM said.
On Thursday GEAC reportedly approved 60 out of 70 applications for field trial of GM crops. The decision was taken at a time when a public litigation is pending before Supreme Court and Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the apex court has already submitted its report wherein, it is believed, the committee has strongly recommended stopping of all such field trials.
“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 of Sangh outfit reads.
BJP had promised in its election manifesto that GM food will not be allowed without evaluation of its long term effects.
“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,” it added.
These 70 applications were put on hold by former environment minister Jayanti Natarajan of Congress.
During the Congress government the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture which includes seven members from BJP, also recommended against trial of GM crops.
The Coalition for a GM-Free India says that most of the countries are not having GM crops because they carry several health risks.
“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,” a statement from the coalition reads.