NEW DELHI: Most of the farmer organisations that had participated in the anti-farm laws movement during 2020-21 have joined hands with groups opposing transgenic crops in the country, and written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to reject the approval given to GM mustard for its environment release.
They said if the government does not reject the approval, they would be forced to step up their struggle against the move of the central biotech regulator – Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) – that had in October allowed the environmental release of GM mustard for seed production and testing.
They, in the letter, forwarded to both environment minister Bhupender Yadav and agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar, argued that the move will do irreparable damage to biodiversity, food, soil and the environment.
The signatories of the letter include Rakesh Tikait, Joginder Singh Ugrahan and Gurnaam Singh Chaduni of the different factions of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), Tejneder Singh Virk of Tarai Kisan Sangathan and leaders of the All India Kisan Sabha among others.
“This genetically modified / herbicide tolerant Mustard will not bring any economic benefits to the farmers and will further contaminate our rich heritage of diversity of mustard and will pollute soil and environment. It will take away the livelihood opportunities of mustard farmers, organic farmers and beekeepers,” they said in the letter written on Sunday.
The letter was released to the media on Monday – a day before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the technical aspects of the pending case relating to GM mustard.
Alleging that the government is actively misleading the Supreme Court with “untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard”, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where the government is actively providing incorrect information to the Court.”
Even farm experts expressed their concerns over the GEAC’s move. Dhiraj Singh, former Director of ICAR’s Directorate of Rapeseed Mustard Research (DRMR) said: “India’s production of rapeseed-mustard has increased by around 38% in the past decade. We are self-sufficient when it comes to mustard oil demand and supply, even as only 15% of India’s edible oil consumption is from mustard. Further, farmers already have more than a dozen non-GM mustard hybrid options in the market which are well-performing, and high yielding than GM hybrid.”
In such a context, Singh questioned, the need for GM mustard. “Why is the SC being told that we need this option, which is risky and irreversible? Seed production of a hazardous GMO which has not even been shown to yield better is objectionable”.
Referring to the experience of other countries during press briefing, he shared worries of gene transfer to native mustard crop and invaluable germplasm at research stations.

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