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Growing clamour against GM mustard; Dave meets protesters (EDS: Adding Dave's meeting with protesters)

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Union minister Anil Dave today a six-member delegation representing those protesting against the approval given for commercial use of genetically modified mustard by the crop regulator. The Environment Minister assured the protesters that their grievances would be addressed on the "right platform". Students, farmers' unions and environmental activists had earlier staged a protest outside the Ministry of Environment here over the approval given for commercial use of GM mustard. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), a body of the ministry that evaluates genetically modified crops, had on May 11 recommended the commercial use of GM mustard. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology, Environment and Forests, headed by leader is likely to review the clearance, according to an official source. The environment ministry had received over 700 comments from various stakeholders, including farmers and researchers, on the Assessment of Food and Environmental Safety (AFES) report on GM mustard, which it had earlier posted on the ministry website. The application was submitted in 2015 after which several rounds of meeting were held by the GEAC. GM mustard is the second genetically modified food crop after Bt Brinjal that has obtained all required regulatory approvals and reached the environment minister's table for clearance. "GM crops affect farmers as they end up relying on companies who supply the seeds, thus giving no scope for reproduction of seeds," said a German native, living in India for seven years and associated with an urban farming company. Once the crop is used for commercial purposes, it cannot be called back because of cross pollination and its impact on health can be manifold, though there is no scientific evidence as of now, she said. The activists also termed GEAC's functions as "unscientific" and "irregular". "We are asking for dissolution of GEAC as the body is discredited and its functions are always secretive," Kavitha Kuruganti of Sarson Satyagraha said. A number of farmers' unions, organic farming community and students also took part in the protest and called for a nationwide outrage if the approval of GM mustard crop for commercial use was not rolled back with immediate effect. The protesters also challenged the ministry for a public debate on the use of such genetically modified crops. "When several mustard-growing states and politicians are against the use of such crops, why is the environment ministry in a hurry to use such poisoned crops?" asked another activist. The protesters added that the government should make a decision on the issue before the next sowing season which is four months away.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 17 2017. 17:22 IST