RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, opposing the approval given to commercial cultivation of genetically modified mustard by the GEAC saying that it is “un-scientific, toxic and will not increase yields”. The GM mustard variety developed by scientists at the Delhi University led by Deepak Pental is not Swadeshi (indigenous) and the gene of this variety is patented in the name of a multinational seed firm Bayer Crop Science, the SJM claimed in the letter.
“The claim that GM Mustard is Swadeshi and has been developed in India is completely untrue. We would like to bring it to your kind notice that in 2002, Proagro Seed Company (Bayer’s subsidiary), applied for commercial approval for similar construct,” SJM co-convener Ashwani Mahajan told reporters at a conference here.
Earlier this month, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), a biotech regulator under the Environment Ministry, had recommended the commercial cultivation of a genetically modified version of mustard.
The GM mustard is developed by scientists at the Delhi University led by Pental.
The GEAC has shown undue haste in introducing un- scientific, toxic and anti-bio diversity GM mustard, the SJM said, adding that researchers of this seed variety have not conducted any tests to ascertain its effect on human health.
The GM mustard has no yield advantage compared to indigenous hybrids, the RSS’s economic wing said and alleged that scientists have falsified the data by yield performance of GM mustard with very old varieties having lesser yield.
The SJM said the condition of royalty payment by the developer to the Bayer has also been kept a secret.
Meanwhile, anti-GM activists Vandana Shiva and Aruna Rodrigues were also present at the conference and said that it is unacceptable that Harsh Vardhan who is the Science and Technology Minister has also been given charge of the Environment Ministry.
It is a conflict of interest in the context of the GM mustard issue, they said.