Students, farmers’ unions and environmental activists today staged a protest outside the Ministry of Environment here over the approval given for commercial use of genetically modified mustard by the crop regulator. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), a body of the ministry that evaluates genetically modified crops, had on May 11 recommended the commercial use of GM mustard.
“GM crops affect farmers as they end up relying on companies who supply the seeds, thus giving no scope for reproduction of seeds,” said a German native, living in India for seven years and associated with an urban farming company.
Once the crop is used for commercial purposes, it cannot be called back because of cross pollination and its impact on health can be manifold, though there is no scientific evidence as of now, she said. The activists also termed GEAC’s functions as “unscientific” and “irregular”. “We are asking for dissolution of GEAC as the body is discredited and its functions are always secretive,” Kavitha Kuruganti of Sarson Satyagraha said.
A number of farmers’ unions, organic farming community and students also took part in the protest and called for a nationwide outrage if the approval of GM mustard crop for commercial use was not rolled back with immediate effect. The protesters also challenged the ministry for a public debate on the use of such genetically modified crops.
“When several mustard-growing states and politicians are against the use of such crops, why is the environment ministry in a hurry to use such poisoned crops?” asked another activist.