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Campaign against GM bananas

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

An NGO today launched a campaign against government's plan to develop genetically modified bananas in the country.

Vandana Shiva, who is heading the NGO, Navdanya, claimed that it was a "false solution".

To save Indian women from anaemia, the Department of Biotechnology has signed an MoU with Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia to develop GM bananas.

The joint venture is meant to "save Indian women from iron deficiency," said Shiva.

"False solutions like genetically engineered bananas are being offered to India. The many existing alternatives of our indigenous biodiversity and knowledge which offers to address the public health emergency of iron deficiency have been ignored," the activist said.

"Bananas have only 0.44mg of iron per 100 gms of edible portion," said Shiva in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, questioning the spending of taxpayer's money on something that has such less iron content instead of the other safe and biodiverse alternatives available.

"GMO bananas will have 3,000 per cent less iron compared to turmeric, niger, or lotus system, 2,000 per cent less than mango powder. The project is a waste of money. The government and research agencies will become blind to biodiversity based, low cost, safe and democratic alternatives," she claimed.

Giving the example of Bt cotton, Shiva claimed, "Just as Bt cotton has taken over 95 per cent cotton in India inspite of having failed to increase yields or control pests, GM bananas will take over and destroy our rich biodiversity.

First Published: Wed, May 01 2013. 19:55 IST