GM Mustard in India? Five unanswered questions

There are hundreds of varieties of indigenous vegetables in India because of its rich and diverse Indian tradition, this is particularly true for brinjal, but also to a lesser extent for mustard.

Written by By Prof. Gilles Eric Séralini And Chef Jérôme Douzelet | Published:October 5, 2016 5:28 pm
Mustard, GM mustard, Mustard growth in india, Mudtard in foods, herbicide plant, mustard oil, Mustard india, mustard oil in food, Indian express, Express blogs The GM mustard is only bred to absorb more and more of herbicide, which in this case is glufosinate.

Why write a book on GM in food? That too, written by a molecular biologist specialist of GMOs and pesticides, and a Chef researching delicious organic food devoid of pesticides that we know are poisonous? It is just to create awareness that a world mafia exists behind the poisoning of the world’s food culture and its systems. Currently, India is debating the introduction of the herbicide tolerant GM mustard.

Let us forewarn Indians that your biodiversity, farmers, and public health all depend on the decision of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to allow/or disallow genetically modified mustard in India.

Why is this being done? The answer is simple. GM mustard is modified so it is able to absorb huge amounts of herbicide. Usually, it is roundup but in this case it is another one known as glufosinate, a known neurotoxin. In India, what is the reason to introduce herbicide tolerance in a seed by the company, especially when it is illegal to introduce herbicide tolerance in plants in India? All safety regulations have been by-passed. The ‘developers’ are yet to produce a single serious health test to the public and it is without any blood analysis of animals that have consumed GM mustard. The three months testing period is scientifically inadequate and disregards all rules of scientific bio-safety assessment.

We are shocked that they are about to commercialise GM mustard and yet no one has asked the developers for blood analysis or feeding studies. GM crops and herbicides have long term health effects and a three-month study is not enough. I strongly urge the people of India to be scientific and ask for all data to be made public.

The GM mustard is only bred to absorb more and more of herbicide, which in this case is glufosinate. It will increase corporate sales of herbicide and spread its vicious poisons all over India. In fact, we would like to ask the Delhi University (researchers who developed), if they do know what is the exact composition of the glufosinate-based pesticide that could be used on this Indian GM Mustard? This detail is hidden, maybe even from the Delhi University.

The priority is to patent this old traditional plant to corporatise it through patents and to sell its own pesticide with it. And remember, once the herbicide is sprayed on mustard fields; the modified plants absorb it without dying but the chemical toxic kills all other forms of life: this simplifies the practice of industrial agriculture, but is detrimental to the environment and biodiversity on the planet.

There are hundreds of varieties of indigenous vegetables in India because of its rich and diverse Indian tradition, this is particularly true for brinjal, but also to a lesser extent for mustard. Each time with the GM debate, agro-business and biotech industry puts huge pressure on the Indian government to destroy food culture and to replace many old nutritious-rich foods with by patented toxic monocultures. Today Indian mustard, is under the same attack, by threatening India with the GM Mustard, corporations are destroying the centre of diversity of mustard for the world. By losing native varieties of mustard, India will not only lose the taste of its food culture but also put at risk the health of 1.5 billion Indians.

Mustard is not only a digestive plant, but was one of the first foods eaten by humans. Proto-Historians have found mustard in Paleolithic sites. It is a widely used detoxifying plant since the middle ages in Europe, Asia, and in India for instance in numerous ayurvedic medicines. Not only are the seeds important but the leaves are good and edible in many Indian food preparations. So now we ask how can we cure people if a natural medicine and herb is filled with herbicidal poison because of artificial genetic modification? The chef can make a tasty mustard crust with fish and lemon or orange, helping not only digestion but stimulate liver and kidney activities. Herbicides and pesticides in general interfere drastically in the body. They have in them petroleum sand, because they are made with it; which then penetrate our cells to prevent them and also surround them, disrupting communications between cells and health.

Farmers have been using mustard to detoxify their soils and also to fix nitrogen when used as a green fertilizer. But far from that, if glufosinate pesticides is sprayed on these soils, it will increase the toxicity in the soils and water table. All drinking water will also get contaminated by this pesticide.

We must also understand that the aromas of plants have not been invented only for our tongues and flavour. It is with the help aromas plants attract insects, which then facilitate pollination and sexual reproduction in plants. Simultaneously the aromas help cells breathe as they detoxify, and consequently they have a therapeutic effect on the beings, animal or human, that consume them.

Plant aromas in food, in general, stimulate papillas and saliva which play a vital role in human digestions as they, by reflex, increase the production of gastric and hepatic juices. In our laboratory experiments, organic plant aromas have helped to eliminate pollutants from the body, which are plenty. This is crucial to bringing down chronic diseases which almost every family is suffering. The link between the poisons in our food and disease is a direct one and forged by industries that are pumping chemicals into our food systems.

Companies may say that they have made this mustard sterile and that there is no environmental risk to see it spreading, crossing with numerous brassicaceae species like cauliflower, carrot, canola, turnip and radish. But we highly doubt that. First of all, this kind of artificially induced sterility never works completely in nature, secondly, explaining their genetic modification they admit the risk they are supposed to exclude at a theoretical regulatory level. Why to kill centuries old tradition of medicine and aromatic cooking with a GMO pesticide drinking mustard? Is it just to increase the use of toxic herbicides?

Indian people have the capacity to reject this herbicide-plant like they did ten years ago for the GM Bt brinjal.

We end by asking five critical questions that should be considered by India and Indians before any decision on the GM is taken-

Q1. How long is the longest toxicological test you have performed on mammals eating GM Mustard?

Q2. Why keep the blood analysis of the animals hidden? They should be available to other scientific and public for review and transparency.

Q3. What is the the exact composition of the glufosinate-based pesticide that could be used on the this Indian GM Mustard?

Q4.Have you measured the aromatic components of the GM Mustard in comparison with the native India mustard? If you have make the data public.

Q5. Have you compared the taste of the GM mustard oil, leaves, et al with the taste and aromas of the native Indian mustard?


Views expressed by the authors are personal. Séralini and Douzelet have co-authored 'The Great Health Scam', Natraj Publishers, New Delhi.