Letter urged the state government to write to the Union minister for environment, asking him to intervene and stop the planting of GM mustard in any garb
More than 90 Gram Panchayats in Tamil Nadu passed a resolution against GM mustard and genetically modified organisms coming to their farms and plates.
The panchayats — from 20 different districts of the state — passed the resolution during Gram Sabha meetings held on January 26, 2023 and submitted a letter to Chief Minister MK Stalin on February 1.
Also read: DTE Coverage: Does India really need GM mustard
The local bodies represented Thenkasi, Tirunelveli, Madurai, Thoothokudi, Dindigul, Theni, Nilgiri, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, Thiruvallur, Salem, Kallakurichi, Tiruvannamalai, Chengalpattu, Ranipet, Thirupattur, Kanchipuram, Cuddalore, Erode and Mayiladuthurai districts of the state.
In their letter submitted to the chief minister, the panchayats urged the state government to write to Bhupender Yadav, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), asking him to intervene and stop the planting of GM mustard in any garb.
MoEFCC, on October 18, 2022, approved the environmental release of GM mustard, named Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11), as a precursor to the approval for commercial cultivation of the country’s first GM food crop.
India has so far approved only one GM crop, Bt cotton, for commercial cultivation.
Earlier, a group of civil society organisations in the state had also sent a petition with more than 1,000 signatures asking the chief minister to stop “this toxic and unsafe GM mustard.”
Also read: Centre’s response on GM mustard proves regulatory violations, claim activists
As a leader of the opposition in the state assembly in 2017, Stalin had written to the then environment minister Harsh Vardhan to withdraw his decision to grant permission for commercial cultivation of GM mustard.
Subsequently, there was a hold on its release, before giving it approval once again in October 2022.
“We sincerely urge you to please write urgently to the Centre and ask them to be responsible towards upholding bio-safety and protect public interest in taking regulatory and policy decisions on a matter such as this and stop this GM mustard immediately,” the letter from the panchayats said.
Meanwhile, The Coalition for a GM-free India, a pan-Indian citizen’s platform, released a report on January 6, 2023, showcasing 15 instances where statutory regulations were violated during the appraisal and approval of GM mustard in India.
The coalition, a group of farmers, activists, researchers and scientists, has locked horns with the Union government, demanding adequate information on the grounds for its approval.
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