Setback for environmentalists as India okays GM crops

When it comes to GM foods, everyone is an expert, even religious leaders. This is true all over the world. Mercifully, India’s Supreme Court, early last year, while allowing the experimental crops to go ahead, didn’t go along with the hysteria. Now comes the news that government of India, is on board with GM. Of course, there is the other aspect, of how are you planning to feed the billion plus whose demand more and more mouthfuls as the economy booms. India’s Environment minister Prakash Javadekar’s responding to queries in Parliament over the recent controversial decision of biotech regulator — the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s (GEAC) — granting approval for experimental field trials of 12 GM crops for the purpose of generating biosafety data, noted, “There is no scientific evidence to prove that genetically-modified crops would harm soil, human health and environment.”

The 12 crops ready for field trials include cotton, rice, castor, wheat, maize, groundnut, potato, sorghum, brinjal, mustard, sugarcane and chickpea.

Javadekar said GM crops particularly GM corn, canola, soybean and cotton are being cultivated and consumed by human beings as well as animals in many countries the world over as food, feed and processed products.

“GM crops have beneficial traits such as insect resistance and herbicide tolerance, stress tolerance, fungal resistance, disease resistance, salt tolerance, drought tolerance, enhance yield and nutrition etc, that may help in food security,” Javadekar said.

He said in view of various concerns related to the safety, efficacy and agronomic performance of transgenic seeds, extensive evaluation and regulatory approval process takes place before any GM plant is approved for commercial cultivation.

The minister’s statement came even as two RSS-linked outfits have sought a ban on field trials of genetically-modified crops, cleared by the GEAC. Representatives of Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kissan Sangh had met Javadekar in July after the GEAC had cleared proposals for confined field trials of rice, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton.

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