Central Executive Committee of AIKMS has filed objections on behalf of Indian farmers against the Central Govt.’s plan to release GM Mustard Seed, DMH – 11 for commercial use. It has appealed to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, GEAC to withdraw the plan as it will be disastrous for Indian agriculture. The GEAC set up by the Supreme Court had asked for objections to be filed by October 5 and the issue is to come up before the Supreme Court later this month.
AIKMS questioned the main claim of GM that it will increase production by 20 to 25% and reduce import bill on edible oils as deceptive as the timely provision of traditional seeds, fertilizers and irrigation and profitable sale will itself drastically increase production without burdening farmers with high cost of DMH-11. While it may reduce import bill of the govt, it will increase farmers’ dependence on MNC Bayer for seeds, fertilizers and insecticides, raise input costs and indebt them. The main reason for shortfall in oilseeds and pulses in India is inadequate govt. support to farmers, reduced under WTO guidelines.
The disastrous affect of Bt Cotton promoted by Monsanto is a pointer to the failure of this technology. It failed to increase productivity, failed to reduce pesticides, it raised costs, indebted farmers and has been a major cause of farmers’ suicides in India. Bayer, a chemical pesticide German company has recently acquired American seed giant Monsanto and is promoting several high cost GM seed varieties which enhance use of chemical fertilizers and insecticides sold by it.
DMH – 11 is being falsely promoted as a native development. It has been prepared by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, South Campus, Delhi University with exactly the same genetic basis and the same arguments as were given by Bayer earlier, when the GEAC was set up to test its claims. It will severely undermine the 3000 natural varieties of Mustard grown in India.
DMH – 11 is also being promoted for its resistance to the chemical weedicide Basta, which can be sprayed freely to kill weeds and help the GM Mustard to grow. Mustard is the most prevalent base for honey bees and the entire honey industry will be adversely affected with the GM crop as increased use of insecticide will be a death signal for honey bees, butterflies and several microbes.
AIKMS has pointed out that the ‘scientific’ approval granted has several glaring errors – cost comparison has not been drawn with the traditional varieties after making proper input provisions; no long term trial was planned to see long term interaction of the artificially introduced genetic material with natural environment; health safety was announced simply by testing and drawing content similarity between natural and GM Mustard seeds and short term reactions in trials done for one year only; impact on development of herbicide resistance to chemical Basta in weeds and possibility of increase requirement of Basta spray has not been properly evaluated; some of the trials had to be abandoned mid way and no reason was ascribed; etc.
Promotion of GM seeds will become a precedent for other GM crops resulting not only in displacement of natural biodiversity with the unnatural resource, it will reduce self dependence of farmers on seeds and increase dependence of the country on MNCs.
Basta, a chemical pesticide is produced by MNC Bayer, the same company which is associated with the development of DMH – 11. There are other conflict of interests also in this approval as some members of the GEAC are associated with companies promoting sale of GM Mustard seeds. All members of the GEAC have not even seen and approved the report.