With activists vowing to step up resistance against genetically-modified (GM) mustard, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said the government will look at agriculture “holistically” and will do whatever it takes to safeguard the interests of country’s farmers.
Noting that he is not “strict” with any particular method of farming, Dave said the issue of GM crops has unnecessarily been “sensitised” and his ministry will analyse every aspect before reaching a decision.
“Whichever will benefit the farmers, whichever will reduce their input cost, whichever increases their production, that is our line of thinking,” he told PTI in an interview.
He said Indian people and consumers, particularly the farmers, must be safeguarded.
“We will see to it that at the end, farmers do not have to invest 12-14 per cent inputs costs particularly for seeds. We want to reduce this. At the same time, farmers should not have to lose their crop as well.
“We are looking at all these issues. (The issue) GM is unnecessarily being sensitised. We will look towards agriculture holistic and completely,” Dave said.
A group of activists had recently said they will step up their resistance against approval to GM mustard and also demanded fixing liability on crop developers for providing “false” evidence to the country’s biotech regulator.
They had made detailed presentations to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) and said they will not allow Indians to be made “lab rats” in an “irreversible and irresponsible experiment”.
Biotech regulator GEAC, however, had recently deferred its decision on commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) mustard in the country and asked its risk assessment group to look into the deficiencies pointed out by a sub-committee.
The Environment Minister said ultimately it is not about fighting that “this religion is better or that is better but it is eventually the uplift of people, especially farmers, which is more important”.
Asked whether the Environment Ministry will go ahead with GM crops if all safeguards are taken into consideration, Dave dismissed it as a “hypothetical” question and said the ministry will analyze every aspect and then reach a decision.
“This is a hypothetical question. Let the chapter come in front of us, we will analye and we will give the decision. The GEAC has not taken a decision as yet,” he said.
Dave had earlier stuck a note of caution over using genetically modified crops, saying one particular scientific process should not be given preference and asserted that natural farming is “always better”.