The government has already submitted a memorandum to the central government expressing its disapproval.

Kerala Agri Minister up in arms against Centre over GM Mustard wants to go organic
news Interview Tuesday, October 04, 2016 - 10:22

With protests mounting across the country against the centre's nod for genetically modified mustard seeds, the Kerala government is confident that it can mount sufficient pressure on the centre to prevent the crop’s commercialisation.

If approved, it will be the second genetically modified food crop to receive the nod in the country. Although BT Brinjal received approval in 2009, its cultivation was put on hold following protests by activists. Non-food crop BT Cotton is the only genetically modified crop that is grown in India. 

The CPI (M)-led LDF government in Kerala has come down heavily on the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee’s (GEAC) plan to approve GM mustard (DMH 11).  A protest was organized in Thrissur district on Sunday in which a number of activist groups participated. 

Speaking to The News Minute, Kerala’s Agriculture Minister VS Sunil Kumar said the state of Kerala has always been against the use of GM seeds.

“In the present agricultural condition of Kerala, introducing GM seeds will only cause more damage. The government is not alone in opposing GM seeds and we are confident that we can exert enough pressure against it,” Sunil Kumar said.

The government has already submitted a memorandum to the central government expressing its disapproval.

“The government had earlier opposed BT Brinjal seeds also. Kerala’s agriculture sector does not need GM seeds to ensure productivity. For a state that had to bear consequences of Endosulfan, we should consider that as a learning before we advocate GM seeds,” Sunil Kumar said.

According to the Minister, the Kerala government has opposed to the idea on multiple grounds.

“For one, there is enough scientific evidence to prove the health hazards that could arise out of its use. Two, commercialization of GM seeds is a way to satisfy the corporates. And who is the losing party here? The farmers. The idea of GM seeds is itself not feasible in Kerala. Diversity of our crops is our power and GM crops end up killing diversity,” the minister said.

The minister also said that agreeing to the introduction of one GM crop will mean opening the door to many others that follow.

“If we allow GM seeds at this stage, that will serve as an encouragement to demands of similar nature,” he said. 

Instead, he emphasised the government policy of strengthening organic farming, which ensures both quality and quantity of the produce.

What is Kerala’s answer to GM seeds? Setting up of a seed bank, the minister said. The seed bank will store the seeds of crops that were traditionally cultivated in the state. 

“Not only will these seeds be stored, but they will go back to the land they came from. Unlike GM crops that destroys the land, organic farming is a definite method to increase productivity without damaging the land. Claims that GM seeds produce more yield is not true,” he said, asserting that the state will remain GM-free. 

 

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