A DAY ahead of the meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) that is to consider an application for commercialisation of a genetically modified mustard variety, NGOs, activists and several scientists stepped up pressure on the government, writing to PM Narendra Modi and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar against the move.
About 120 people, among them serving and retired scientists at institutions like IIT Mumbai, JNU, Calicut University, Kerala Agriculture University and others, lent their signatures to the letter calling for an “end to regulation (of genetically modified organisms) that is secretive, and that has many elements of conflict of interest”.
RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagaran Manch also joined the issue, with its national convenor Ashwani Mahajan writing a separate letter to Javadekar, seeking cancellation of the GEAC meeting. He reiterated his organisation’s position on the issue and demanded that permission should not be granted to commercialisation of GM mustard.
GM mustard is the first food crop to have applied for commercialisation after the indefinite ban on the GM brinjal by the Jairam Ramesh-led environment ministry in 2010.
NGOs and activists have been agitating for the last few days against the possible approval to GM mustard, that has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants in Delhi University. They also roped in Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who wrote to the Prime Minister earlier this week.
While calling for a comprehensive biosafety legislation to create a better regulatory structure, the scientists and activists, in their letter to the PM, have also argued that the mustard variety under consideration was not even needed.