Saturday, 28 June 2014

Why India does not need GM Technology and Genetically Modified Crops?



In early June, Intelligence Bureau (IB), an intelligence agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India submitted a report to Prime Minister Office and other Government agency with a subject captioned, 'concerted efforts by select foreign funded NGOs to take down India development projects'. Though the report is marked as 'secret' but it was leaked to media. IB has identified at least six developmental sectors (viz. Nuclear Power, Coal Fired Powered Project, Genetically Modified Organisms, Mega Industrial Project, Hydel projects, Extractive Industries) which have been affected by the agitation of certain NGOs.

With regard to Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO), IB reports that anti GMO activities in India are led by five Indian activists and six NGOs.


After the availability of IB report in public domain, anti GMO activists and NGOs responded to it and clarified their stand through press release and/or through social medias. 'Indian Botanists' tried to extract the answer from their response as, 'Why India does not need GM Technology and Genetically Modified Crops?' Here are the excerpts.


 Serious Bio-safety Issues

'The biggest foreign hand by stealth and official cover-up will be in GMOs/GM crops if introduced into Indian agriculture' says Vandana Shiva, Aruna Rodrigues and Kavitha Kuruganti (anti GMO activists as mentioned in IB report) in a joint statement.

Further the joint statement says, 'this will represent the largest take-over of any nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands and this time it will be no bogey foreign hand. This will be for real. China is on record as saying that she will not allow her armed forces to eat any GM food. This not-to-be-imagined future will plunge India into the biggest breach of internal security; of a biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover.

Raising the fall out with GM technology, activists says, this technology is mere 20 year-old laboratory technology is, and it is irreversible. GM crops have already demonstrated no yield gain, no ability to engineer for traits of drought, saline resistance etc and have some serious bio-safety issues which no regulator wishes to examine'.

Lack of Principles of Sustainable Development and Inter-generational Equity in Rules

Dr Suman Sahai, (recipient of the Padma Shri, the Borlaug Award and Outstanding Woman Achiever Awards) who also finds a mention in the IB report, writes in her blog that the Rules with respect to GMOs were made in 1989 under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act, 1986. The Rules are neither in consonance with the international conventions like the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety nor the provisions of the Constitution. Nor do they address the principles of sustainable development, precautionary principle and intergenerational equity.

Why has the IB not quoted several international scientists of repute who advise abundant caution in dealing with GMOs ? asks, Dr Sahai raising doubt on the motivation of  the GMO section of the report.


Referring to 'The Sopory Committee Report of 2012', she writes,  'The committee’s findings raised disconcerting questions over the claims made by developers of GM crops, the role of regulatory bodies, the public sector research institutions and their ethical standards. The establishments dealing with GMOs have been indicted in this report for lies, fraud and lacking scientific expertise in GM technology.'

Dr Sahai's blog content is copy of press release by Gene Campaign jointly issued by Dr Suman Sahai and Dr Vandana Shiva. However, Dr Sahai has not mentioned specifically any reason,  why India does not need GM Technology and Genetically Modified Crops?

Unsustainable and Incompatible with Organic farming
 
ASHA (Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture) released a statement on the IB report and India's GMO free movement. Kavitha Kuruganti is one of the convenors of ASHA. Creating an informed debate on risky technologies in agriculture like GM crops, especially centered around the issues of biosafety and seed sovereignty is one among several objectives for promoting sustainable agriculture and sustainable farm livelihoods.

Statement states that, 'transgenics are unsustainable and incompatible with agro-ecological, organic farming, apart from being potentially detrimental to consumer health and conservation of biodiversity as one of the bedrocks of economic and ecological sustainability. Experiences across the world and in India have shown that GM crops also facilitate the control of our seeds into the monopolistic hands of a few multinational seed corporations, which is not just a threat to livelihoods of our farmers but our nation’s sovereignty itself.'

'The Movement to keep our farms, food and environment free from GMOs will continue, since the technology does have potential adverse impacts, is based on unproven claims of benefits, and because it is unneedeed' mentions, ASHA highlighting the anti GMO movement to be continued.

Emphasizing on the adverse impact of GMO, statement further says, 'transgenic technology in our food and farming systems and in our environment does have adverse impacts, which have been scientifically documented.

Subsequently, praising the agro-ecological practice, it says that real, lasting solutions lie in agro-ecological approaches to farming and GMOs contaminate and irreversibly destroy the freedom to choose for both farmers and consumers.

Unpredictable Technology

As reported earlier, Greenpeace India says '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.'

'GMO technology is being pushed in India by US multinationals like Monsanto. Several respected scientists, experts and bodies such as Parliamentary  Standing  Committee  and  the  Supreme  Court appointed  panel  of  experts  has recommended  a  moratorium  on  GM  technology and  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.

Summary (10 Reasons, Why India doesn't need GM Crops)

From the above press releases and statements of anti GMO activists and NGO, reasons, why India does not need GM Technology and Genetically Modified Crops are summarized below in ten points. Some of these points are near to each other if not similar.

1. This will lead to take-over of nation’s agriculture and future development by foreign-hands.

2. It may plunge India into the biggest breach of internal security in the form of biosecurity threat and food security crisis from which we will never recover.

3. Technology is mere 20 year-old laboratory technology is, and it is irreversible.

4. Serious bio-safety issues with no proper regulatory mechanism.

5. No ability to engineer for single and multiple traits of drought, saline resistance etc.

6. Unsustainable and incompatible with agro-ecological, organic farming.

7. Potentially detrimental to consumer health and conservation of biodiversity as one of the bedrocks of economic and ecological sustainability.

8. GM crops also facilitate the control of our seeds into the monopolistic hands of a few multinational seed corporations, which is not just a threat to livelihoods of our farmers but our nation’s sovereignty itself.

9. An un-predicatble technology and once the GMOs are released in the environment, it can't be controlled or called back .

10. GMOs contaminate and irreversibly destroy the freedom to choose for both farmers and consumers.

We look forward for more scientific and detailed debate on, 'Need of GM Technology and Genetically Modified Crops in India'. Send your opinions and views through our e-mail id: indianbotanists@gmail.com

1 comment:

  1. Suman Sahai, also known as Prof. Sahai from Heidelberg University and plagiarist. See her profile on Wikipedia....

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