Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has written to the Centre today demanding that the application for cultivation of GM mustard be cancelled. “I strongly urge you that this GM mustard application must be rejected instantaneously,” Kumar said in a letter to Minister of State (Independent charge) for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Anil Madhav Dave. “No decision on GM crops should be taken in haste, which can harm the interests of the farmers and the people of the India at large,” he said in the letter.
Kumar wrote the letter on the basis of media reports that the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has accorded regulatory clearance to GM mustard’s commercial cultivation and the matter now awaits the Environment Minister’s decision.
The Bihar CM referred to his earlier letter to the Prime Minister on October 10, 2016 and said “our concerns and objections to this proposal for GM food crop cultivation remains un-resolved. I had already raised the issue of how state governments will be forced to bear the adverse consequences of this technology if the Centre approves such GMOs for cultivation, whereas agriculture is a state subject.”
The said technology is likely to be commercialised by the multinational seed companies, which will be highly monopolistic and leave millions of farmers in the hands of seed companies. Further, the present Seed Act does not have adequate provisions for liability and compensation. If such risky technologies fail it will cause damage to farmers and the environment, he said.
Besides, the issue is still pending in the Supreme Court, which has given status quo order on GM mustard’s approval by the Central government. The Central government has to address the issues and make its submission to the apex court before taking a final decision, Kumar wrote in the letter to Dave.