Swadeshi Jagran Manch has written to the Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change urging him to intervene and ensure that no GM mustard seed is allowed to be planted, now or ever.

In a letter to the Minister Bhupender Yadav, RSS' economic wing SJM sought attention towards Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), Government of India's regulatory body for gene technologies and said that it is continuing to function in an irresponsible fashion.

"In its last meeting on October 18, 2022, they have cleared a GM food crop for cultivation in farmers' fields in India, that too a herbicide tolerant mustard variety, after running the pretence of a review of GM mustard," the SJM said.

Mustard seeds.
Mustard seeds.IANS

"This is to bring to your notice that nothing has changed from May 2017 when GEAC's green signal for this unsafe GM mustard had to be stopped by the Government of India, keeping in mind various concerns and serious issues pertaining to this GM mustard. Not a single additional test has been done, nor a single question been answered scientifically about the safety or efficacy or need of this GM mustard," said Dr Ashwani Mahajan, National Co Convenor, SJM.

"We are confident that as a person who has carefully studied the adverse impacts of GM crops and also published opinion pieces on the same in the past, you will intervene immediately in this matter, and ensure that no GM mustard seed is allowed to be planted, now or ever," he said.

It needs to be remembered that GM mustard has never been tested as a herbicide tolerant crop at all, while even the development of this glufosinate-tolerant crop was in violation of India's pesticides regulations. The yield data was rigged and evidence about this has been shared with the regulators by alert citizens and experts. Importantly, major mustard-growing states of India were opposed to GM crops in general, and this particular GM mustard and had not even allowed for field trials to take place, the SJM said.

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"As you know, mustard is a very important crop in our agriculture and in our food chain. For lakhs of bee-keepers in the country, mustard crop is a source of livelihood, while mustard crop itself benefits from honeybees' activity in terms of yield improvements. Mustard is eaten directly too in Indian cuisine and mustard oilseed cake is used in organic soil amendments. The fact that such a crop has been exploited for any genetic modification is in itself highly objectionable, and this has happened with DBT funding at that," the letter said.

(with inputs from IANS)