The anti-GM lobby on Friday upped its ante against the recent environmental release of genetically modified (GM) mustard. Almost 200 activists gathered outside the Directorate of Mustard Research in Bharatpur (Rajasthan), calling for halting the approvals.
In Delhi, members of Sarson Satyagrah, a civil society group, said that the nationwide agitation would be intensified in the coming weeks.
“We will activate all possible democratic and non-violent avenues available to us. We would ensure that GM mustard planting does not end up being an irreversible and unaccountable misadventure,” said members of the Sarson Satyagraha during a press conference on Friday.
The panelists alleged that regulatory decision-making has sacrificed scientific rigor. They said the environment ministry appears to have abandoned responsible policy-making when it comes to a dangerous herbicide-tolerant GM food crop.
The activists alleged that GM mustard has not been proven to have any yield advantage for it to be granted an environmental permission.
“GM mustard commercial cultivation could lower India’s productivity, if it ends up being sown in large areas. GM mustard DMH-11 is lower-yielding than popular varieties and hybrids. Even then, its seed production has been permitted by the regulators. There is also the possibility of male sterility trait spreading. This will actually create losses for farmers and is outright anti-farmer,” the activists observed.
They said GM mustard has not even proven to be an effective hybridisation technology.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court told the Centre to not allow people to plant GM mustard till the next hearing on November 10. The Centre told the apex court that it needed time till Monday to put the latest facts on record.
The Supreme Court direction could put a spanner on early sowing of GM mustard this rabi season as the ideal planting time closes in the next 10-15 days.
The Bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sudhanshu Dhulia said it was pointed out by the petitioners that the crop was hazardous.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, said the court-appointed technical expert committee has advised against using any herbicide-tolerant crop. “It also said that the regulatory system in India is in complete shambles and needs to be revamped,” he said.