Intelligence Bureau (IB), an intelligence agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India in a report dated 3rd June, 2014 has warned that a significant number of NGOs including anti genetically modified organism (GMO) activists and NGOs funded by foreign countries are stalling Indian Development Projects.
The report has mentioned five activists and six NGOs running anti GMO campaign. It says that these NGOs and activists are stalling mega industrial projects like POSCO and Vedanta.
Who are they?
As per the report, anti GMO activism in India was initiated by Vandana Shiva (Navadanya; Consultant, Greenpeace, Australia) and was followed by Suman Sahai of Gene Campaign by filing PIL in the Supreme Court of India in 2004 and 2007. Subsequently Aruna Rodrigues also filed a PIL in 2005 and Kavitha Kuruganti (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture- ASHA and India For Safe Food- IFSF) also joined the campaign. Karuna Raina runs the anti GM campaign for Greenpeace as mentioned in the report.
Referring the Parliamentary Standing Committee (August, 2009) and Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court (October 7, 2012) recommendation of ban/moratorium of Bt Brinjal, the report says that these NGOs were active facilitators of news articles, liaison with other activists and social media activism which contributed to the three year old moratorium on Bt Brinjal.
IB Praises Pro- GMO researchers
Further report says, In 2008, Ronald Herring from Cornell University had accused anti GMO activists of spreading the falsehood that hundreds of sheep and cattle had died after eating Bt Cotton leaves. Pro GM researchers, bio-tech companies and other field enquiries have not been able to verify any such deaths, raising questions on the credibility and integrity of reports generated by these activists.
Protest against the report
However, a number of prominent citizens and activists registered their protest against the report of Intelligence Bureau. Greenpeace India also responded to the report and dismissed accusations levelled by the Intelligence Bureau that it was foreign funded and it aimed at stalling development.
IB tracking NGOs criticizing nuclear power, GMOs etc. Say they hold up development. Report submitted to PMO. Where is this headed ?
— Dr Suman Sahai (@SumanSahai) June 8, 2014
Why Greenpeace is anti GMOs?
Greenpeace India through a press release has explained, why Greenpeace is anti GMOs? "It's so far been an unpredicatble technology and once the GMOs are released in the environment, it can't be controlled or called back. While the IB accuses us of representing foreign interests, GMO technology is being pushed in India by US multinationals like Monsanto. Several respected scientists, experts and bodies such as Several respected scientists, experts and bodies such as Parliamentary Standing Committee and the Supreme Courtappointed panel of experts has recommended a moratorium on GM technologyand a precautionary approach to GM technology. Many countries across the world restrict GM food crops. India does not need GMOs for food security –we already produce enough food to feed our population and the challenge lies in setting up efficient distribution systems. Instead of investing in false solutions such as GMOs, the government should focus on rejuvenating our natural resources through ecological agriculture practices which is critical to ensure food security of the country", said Greenpeace India through a press release.
Which law of the land they have broken?
"In my opinion, the only legitimate issue, whether with foreign or domestic NGOs, or foreign or domestic individuals, or foreign or domestic institutions, is if any law is broken. Unfortunately, in its 21-page report, the IB is silent on laws being broken, but explosive in wearing its own righteous ideology on its ever so arrogant sleeve". Writes, Surjit S Bhalla, chairman of Oxus Investments in his column 'No Proof Required : In Defense of Greenpeace' in The Indian Express.