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GM crops are a global threat, warn experts

Jun 28, 2013

Scores of protestors gathered in New Delhi to protest against the BRAI Bill calling it a serious threat to human health and biodiversity.

The Indian capital city of New Delhi witnessed a massive protest against the invasion of the Genetically Modified (GM) crops and its proponents like Monsanto, the American Multinational Seed Corporation, into India’s food and farming.

People were vehemently opposing the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, a centralised system for easy approval of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The protestors said the BRAI Bill poses a serious threat to human health, biodiversity and farm livelihoods.

According to Devinder Sharma, Agricultural Scientist, international companies like Monsanto decide the fate of farmers and farming in countries like, the US to ensure their profits. “Once BRAI Bill becomes a law, Indian farmers will no longer have access to decide what to farm and what to eat, as they will be completely dependent on MNCs like, Monsanto, for the seeds and other required things,” he explained.

“Countries like America, Canada and Argentina hold 90% share of the GM crops globally. Infact, in America, contamination of crops has already started,” Sharma said. According to him, this will lead to deterioration of health and environment in the long run. He also gave an example of a south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh where GM crops have had an adverse impact on the population of sheep in the state.

Yudhvir Singh, Convenor of Indian Coordination Committee of Farmer’s Movements, warned that, the UPA government through this BRAI bill is giving away the control over seeds to American companies like Monsanto. “We have already experienced this in case of cotton, where 93% of cotton grown in the country is now being controlled by Monsanto through its proprietary technology,” Singh added.

Kapil Shah, Convenor of Jatan Trust in Gujarat said that organic farming should be promoted, rather than scientific modification in the seed. “America earned good for around four years, but now, contamination can be seen because of GM crops,” Shah said.

Nikhil Dey from Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan(MKSS), said that BRAI Bill is a challenge to the transparency in governance. “It not only tries to negate the powers of the Right To Information Act (RTI), but also makes a mockery of public participation in decision making on a technology which impacts each one of us in this country” he said.

Kapil Mishra, associate member with coalition for GM free India, warned that GM crops will not only harm the environment, but will also leave the consumer bereft of choices. Mishra also advocated that field trial should be replaced with close door experiment. “GM crops are banned in Europe, after looking at its cons. These companies will poison people for their profit,” he said.

Leaders of various farmer Unions including All India Kisan Sabha, Bharatiya Kisan Morcha, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Bharatiya Kisan Union, Bharatiya Krishak Samaj, and Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Bihar joined the protests in New Delhi and condemned BRAI Bill as anti-farmer policy.

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