With a section of farmers protesting against the proposal to introduce genetically modified (GM) mustard, the Madhya Pradesh government will not allow field trials of the GM crop in MP.
On Sunday, farmers from Jhabua staged a demonstration against GM mustard seeds in Bhopal. Farmers and NGOs have urged the state government not to give its approval as the GM seed could pose a threat to the organic variety. Madhya Pradesh is the fourth largest producer of mustard in India with a share of nearly 11%.
“We have written to the environment ministry raising our concerns that the long-term impact study of GM crop on health and environment remains inconclusive. So even if the GM mustard is cleared by the regulator, the MP government will not allow its cultivation,” principal secretary (agriculture) Rajesh Rajora told Hindustan Times.
GM mustard could become India’s first transgenic food crop released for cultivation by the union ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which regulates the testing and introduction of genetically-modified crops. The environment ministry’s one-month deadline for public comments on allowing commercialization of GM mustard expires on Wednesday.
Rajora said another objection was related to farmers becoming dependent on some MNCs for seeds.
“The GM seed companies follow monopolistic policies and so farmers lose their self-reliance and that leads to their exploitation,” he said.
Protests have started in other states under the banner of ‘Sarson Satyagraha’. Green activists have slammed the environment ministry, saying it should first publish the full GM mustard bio-safety dossier on its website.
Organic farming expert Deepak Suchde said there was no need to introduce GM mustard as proper adherence to soil fertility techniques and natural cultivation methods were sufficient to raise the crop output with use of normal seed varieties.