Agriculture
By giving approval for the genetically modified mustard the union government has cast a shadow on the health of the people
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Kerala Assembly unanimously passed a resolution demanding cancellation of the approval given for Genetically Modified mustard. The motion urged the union government not to give approval for production and cultivation of GM mustard for commercial purposes.

After the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) gave a positive recommendation to GM Mustard last Thursday, the approval is now due with the Environment Minister. Once it gets clearance, GM Mustard will be the first genetically modified food crop to be cultivated in India.

Kerala state Minister for Agriculture V S Sunil Kumar presented the motion in the assembly.

“It is very sad that the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee of the Union Government has given approval for the farming and production on commercial basis for the genetically modified mustard, when the approval of the Union and State governments was needed for cultivating genetically modified seeds,” the motion says.

“This is a very serious issue. By giving approval for the genetically modified mustard the union government has cast a shadow on the health of the people as well as on indigenous agriculture. This is an attempt by people with vested interests at a time the country is attempting to achieve self- sufficiency in food production,” the motion adds.

Activists too have been protesting against the GEAC’s approval saying that the crop is a herbicide tolerant (HT) variety and would have direct adverse impacts on Indian farmers and consumers. The GEAC’s approval has been termed as “anti-environment".

What the motion passed in the Kerala assembly says:

1. It has not been proved that GM seeds are more productive.

2. It has been found that GM crops attract new kinds of insects. Controlling them is expensive and chemical pesticides are needed for that. Also, to aggregate the growth of GM crops new chemical fertilizers are needed. This will create serious environmental and health issues, studies have proved. The resistance capacity of the GM crops cannot be viewed as consistent.

3. GM crops are expensive and difficult to nurture.

4. GM crops will destroy the species of indigenous crops.

5. It has not yet been proven that GM food products are not hazardous to health.

6. When GM crops reach the hands of corporate companies the cost will become unbearable for farmers. The expensive cultivating process of the crops will put the farmers in distress.

7. It will also destroy the idea of organic farming and damage the reputation of farmers. 8. In treatments methods like Ayurveda the relevance of oil is big. When GM oils are used for medicines, it won’t be able to predict the results.

8. It was recommended in the report of Agriculture Standing Committee on August 9 2012 that even the experimentation of GM crops should be prevented.

9. Experts like Dr MS Swaminathan have expressed concern over the quality of BT brinjal.

10. With the advent of GM crops the right to protect, use and transfer the seeds of famers under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Act 2001 will be denied.

11. Majority of the Indian states are against GM crops.