close_game
close_game

Is Modi preparing to defy RSS outfit on GM mustard rollout?

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Oct 10, 2016 12:21 AM IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears keen on genetically modified (GM) mustard if it is found to be foolproof, despite opposition from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological parent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi appears keen on genetically modified (GM) mustard if it is found to be foolproof, despite opposition from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological parent.

In August, PM Narendra Modi had called upon three cabinet ministers and four top bureaucrats to carry out a thorough and speedy assessment of GM mustard.(AP File Photo)
In August, PM Narendra Modi had called upon three cabinet ministers and four top bureaucrats to carry out a thorough and speedy assessment of GM mustard.(AP File Photo)

At a meeting held in August, Modi had called upon three cabinet ministers and four top bureaucrats to carry out a thorough and speedy assessment of GM mustard. Agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, environment minister Anil Dave, science and technology minister Harsh Vardhan and the secretaries of these ministries had attended the meeting, two sources have told HT.

We're now on WhatsApp. Click to join.

Modi watched a presentation by the biotechnology department on GM mustard and then got a lowdown from Prof Deepak Pental – the lead scientist behind the project.

Analysts view this as a sign that Modi favours GM technology as a policy option in agriculture.

If the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee – India’s biotech regulator – clears GM mustard developed by Delhi University scientists, Modi will have to decide whether he should defy the RSS by approving a GM food crop for commercialisation.

In its 2014 election manifesto, the BJP had said GM crops would not be allowed without a study of its “long-term” effects.

Read| RSS outfit faces ‘anti-national’ barb over genetically modified crop event

India wants to raise its oilseed output because it spends over Rs 65,000 crore annually on importing cooking oil, an item that stokes inflation. A GM crop is one in which a gene is altered for newer traits, such as high yield and pest resistance.

“The PM has talked about harnessing technology in every field, including GM crops, to double farmers’ income by 2022,” said Bhagirath Choudhary of the South Asia Biotechnology Centre, a pro-GM outfit.

However, the RSS and anti-GM groups argue that GM crops pose environmental and health risks. “GM is not acceptable,” Ashwini Mahajan, leader of the RSS-affiliated Swadeshi Jagran Manch, told HT. “We provided proof to the Prime Minister that GM mustard is neither indigenous nor capable of providing high yields. It will ultimately benefit multinationals like Bayer.”

However, Pental said he held the patent for the technology, and claimed his variety had over 30% higher yields.

Hearing an application filed in an ongoing case by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues, the Supreme Court on Saturday asked the government to not release GM mustard till October 17, and seek public opinion before making a decision.

Read| Don’t give go ahead to GM mustard, farmers and activists tell MP govt

Get Latest India News and Uttarakhand Tunnel Collapse Live Updates along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
    author-default-90x90

    Zia Haq reports on public policy, economy and agriculture. Particularly interested in development economics and growth theories.

SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, November 23, 2023
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals