The Delhi government on Tuesday urged the Centre not to give clearance to cultivation of genetically modified mustard as allowing the agriculture technique for growing a food crop could pose threat to environment, soil, farmers and consumers’ health.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia demanded the Centre to reject the application, pending with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, seeking approval on GM mustard.
While Sisodia said it was the duty of the Delhi government “to protect the rights of its citizens to cultivate crops of their choice”, the communication also holds political relevance as the issue of genetically modified crops is a burning issue in neighbouring Punjab.
Devastation of Bt cotton crop in Punjab due to a whitefly epidemic last year witnessed widespread protests by farmers.
The ineffectiveness of genetically modified (GM) cotton in light of epidemic raised concern among agricultural experts and farmers over the growing dependency on Bt cotton and their effectiveness. Assembly polls are scheduled to be held in Punjab early next year and the Aam Aadmi Party is eying the north Indian state as the next destination for political expansion.
In his letter, the AAP leader also claimed that scientists are conducting tests of GM crops in Delhi University labs without possessing a no-objection certificate from the Delhi government, which makes such tests illegal.
“The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture had raised concerns about such crops in 2012. The report of Technical Expert Committee, constituted by the Supreme Court, also raises concerns over it….We demand that government must make all reports and data related to GM crops in its possession public so that scientists, state governments, farmers and consumers could debate it,” Sisodia said in his letter.