GM crops are one of the most controversial technologies in agriculture – there is growing scientific evidence on its adverse impacts on health, biodiversity, farm livelihoods etc. A glimpse of the early warnings from scientific studies related to adverse impacts of GMOs which require a precautionary principle to be adopted with this technology is available in a compilation that can be accessed from: www.indiagminfo.org/?p=657.
The technology involves the transfer of genes from one organism to the other, a process which is imprecise and consequences unpredictable. Added to this is also the corporate control of seeds, the most important input in agriculture, through this technology. All this along with the fact that it is a living technology the products of which (GMOs) once out in the environment are uncontrollable and irreversible, has made it a risky technology opposed across the world and shunned by majority of countries.
Field trials and contamination of our food and seed supply chain
Field trials constitute a deliberate environmental release of unknown, untested and presumably unsafe organisms that are new in Nature. GMOs released into the environment in the garb of field trials pose various risks including contamination of wild gene pool, contamination of other crops, undetected entry into the food chain and jeopardizing trade security. In India, time and again, it has also been established that field trials have happened and are happening in violation of the meagre biosafety norms laid down. Institutional apathy and incapability of the regulatory system compounds the risks.
We oppose such risky open air trials of GMOs, whether it is being conducted by MNCs or public sector agencies – a poison is a poison, whoever serves it to us. Moreover, it is completely unacceptable for public sector organisations, funded by public money, to take up such trials on behalf of corporations like Monsanto. Our NARS (National Agricultural Research System)’s universities and their research stations are repositories of India’s germplasm wealth. This is a generous gift from our farmers to other farmers and the nation. All of this is being jeopardized through irresponsible open-air trials of GMOs.
Reports on GM contamination scandals, including the Ministry of Agriculture’s Sopory Committee’s, has shown that such contamination could happen inside a university either accidentally or intentionally, either biologically or through admixtures.
Credible bodies like a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and a Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee of independent scientists have strongly recommended an immediate suspension of all open air field trials of GMOs in the country.
Demand to stop GM Field trials in Maharashtra
Maharashtra unfortunately has been made into a hotspot of risky GM experiments. Recently with Gujarat also joining other states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Kerala in denying permissions for field trials, Maharashtra has become the only state where such field trials are happening. The Maharashtra government has no evidence of safety that it has shown the public, that other state governments do not have, that allows it to take this approach when these other state governments are rejecting such trials. According to available information, Monsanto’s Herbicide tolerant and insect resistant (HT Bt) corn as well as HT corn trials are happening in the state at present in MPKV Rahuri and VNMKV Parbhani. Media reports have already shown serious violations at these trials of whatever little norms that exist.
We, the undersigned, demand that the Maharashtra government do not permit any open air field trials of GMOs since they are a threat to our food, farming and environment. We demand that the ongoing trials be destroyed immediately.