Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Kultar Singh Sandhwan Wednesday called a special meeting in the Assembly in Chandigarh on January 16 to discuss the issues around Genetically Modified (GM) mustard seeds. Experts from different fields and farmer-leaders have been invited to participate in the meeting.
After receiving the message for the meeting, state general secretary of the Bharatiya Kisan Union-Ekta (Dakonda) Jagmohan Singh Patiala said they welcome the move. Patiala said, “The move by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, which is a part of the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment, to allow cultivation of GM mustard for commercial purposes is against nature and an unfortunate step for the health of humans and livestock.”
According to the farm leaders, the GM mustard seeds are detrimental for nature because the prescribed guidelines and protocols were not complied with during the food safety testing. They allege that regulatory lapses were observed by a coalition for a GM-free India.
They further said the agronomic trial was done with incorrect comparators and although multiple tests were prescribed on the soil and the microflora, field demonstration studies on honeybees and other pollinators were not done as prescribed.
The state president of the organization, Buta Singh Burzgill, senior vice-president Manjit Singh Dhaner and Patiala called upon the entire society, especially the farmers, to think about the issue seriously.
Patiala, in a statement, rejected Centre and former vice-chancellor of Delhi University Deepak Pental’s argument that India procures 70 per cent of its mustard oil from other countries by spending millions of dollars and growing GM mustard will help the country become self-reliant in making mustard oil.
The reason for the decrease in the area of mustard cultivation in India is not the low production of mustard seeds, but the lack of proper price for the mustard crop and the lack of guarantee of purchase,” said Patiala.
He added, “The fact is that we have five types of mustard seeds which give higher yield and higher oil content, much more than the GM seed.” Patiala further said that famous scientist Albert Einstein had said that the day all the honey bees in the world die, humans will become extinct. He claimed, “If GM mustard is cultivated, the most affected insect would be the honey bees and the pollinating insects.”
The farmer leader further said, “The approval of the GM mustard seed is a part of the policy of the Indian government through which it wants to push farmers out of agriculture and hand over the business to the corporate houses. The multinational corporations, particularly the US-based Monsanto and Bayer, have the patent of the GM mustard seed. The government of India wants to subjugate the farmers by eliminating the traditional and indigenous seeds of their crops, vegetables, pulses and oilseeds and establish the monopoly of the corporate world multinationals.”
Patiala further said, “The ‘global diversity’ will be threatened by the corporate drive to eradicate species that have evolved over thousands of years according to each region’s natural needs and environment. The farming community and the people of the society will never tolerate and accept it.”