(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj is against the irreversible, uncontrolled, and potentially dangerous release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment. We are also concerned about the health hazards of GM products. The International Scientists community have given their reports and proved that GM Crops cannot increase the productivity and cannot feed the hunger.
There should be Mandatory Labelling of all GM products, irrespective of the percentage traces of GM materials present in the product in any form whatsoever. Labelling norms should clearly state that it is a GM product. There should be no soft provision to state "May Contain GM Traces" . GM products is entering in the market illegally through imports .
As of now only approved GM product in the country is Bt cotton. But we are sorry to note free clandestine imports of GM seeds and GM food and feed into the country, flouting all regulatory norms. Unapproved imported GM seeds are being cultivated in this country, in blatant violation of bio safety norms.
Adequate tests should be done in the country to establish the safety of GM products to be approved for imports .Test should establish safety of health and environment .The process and results of such tests should be made transparent . If such adequate tests cannot be conducted in the country to establish health and environment safety, precautionary principles of the Cartagena Protocol on Bio safety should be applied to deny imports of GM products for food, feed, processing and cultivation.
However for research purposes, imports may be allowed, but with a strict provision of not allowing its release in the environment. Caution should be taken that the research materials are not clandestinely diverted for use in food, feed and processing for consumption.
Here is the relevant portion of the Cartagena Protocol : lack of scientific certainty due to insufficient knowledge regarding the extent of the potential adverse effects of a living modified organism on conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the Party of import, taking also into account risks to human health, shall not prevent that Party from taking a decision , as appropriate, with regard to the import of the living modified organisms in question.....to avoid or minimise such potential adverse effects."
There are in pipeline a number of GM food crops for approval. There is no sufficient sophisticated mechanism in this country to establish the safety of GM crops. The most worrying situation has been created by the India-US Knowledge Initiate in Agriculture Research and Education.Through this pact US is putting pressure to relax our regulatory norms on GM products.
Now the Govt. is planning to dismantle GEAC of environment ministry and to set up an autonomous regulator under ministry of science and technology for all GM products. Such a move would be dangerous the GEAC should continue under ministry of environment and issues related to environment , human and animal health should be vigorously addressed with transparency . Health ministry & ICMR should be more responsible and they should be agressive in expressing concerns over the safety of GM foods .
We, therefore, demand a moratorium on release of all GM crops .
(Editorial : Kisan Ki Awaaz Magazine)