An expert panel set up by the Centre to examine the impact of developmental projects in the Western Ghats has recommended a blanket ban on the introduction of controversial genetically modified (GM) crops in the eco-sensitive region in a yet-to-be released report.
VS Vijayan, member of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), which was set up last year by the Union environment ministry, told HT, “The committee has strongly objected to the use of GM crops in Western Ghats. It will not only be economically harmful for farmers across the country but, it could also contaminate the natural, organic species.”
The report has also recommended a blanket ban on plastic and phasing out of pesticides.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had constituted the panel on March 4, 2010, to study the impact of developmental projects in the entire Western Ghats region, specifically those in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts, the latter being the greenest district in the country with 51% green cover.
The report of the panel was submitted to the MoEF on August 31 this year.
The recommendation of the panel assumes significance as the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill is likely to be introduced in the ongoing Winter Session. Environmentalists across the country have warned that if this bill becomes a reality, farmers will be forced to use GM seeds and pander to the policies of multinational seed companies. The bill has been facing criticism because it has proposed a single window clearance for GM crops.
The national convener of the GM Free India coalition, Shridhar Radhakrishnan, said, “GM foods will intrude into the evolution of crops. The Centre should come out with a white paper.”