Farmers demand complete ban on GM crops

Published: Saturday 31 May 2008

on may 6, over 1,000 farmers under the banner Coalition for a gm -free India gathered in Delhi to demand complete ban of all genetically engineered crops. Not only do we not need genetically engineered crops, we definitely dont need Bt brinjals, said Yudhvir Singh of Bharat Kisan Union.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the countrys regulatory authority on gm crops and gm food, is currently considering applications for (experimental) seed production for Mahycos Bt brinjal. The farmers said this was retrogressive as experiments in the us showed gm soyabean resulted in a decrease in yield. Yield comes at a later stage, but before that all the surrounding crops will be destroyed and our cattle will die. We had a negative experience with Bt cotton and we dont want any more gm crops. The government should be pro-farmers and not pro-industry, said Ter Singh, a farmer from Jhabua district in Madhya Pradesh.

Incidents of cattle dying due to consumption of residues from farms cultivating Bt cotton have been reported earlier. Farmers also had rashes and skin irritations after harvesting Bt cotton.

Bt brinjal, if introduced, will be the first gm vegetable in the world to be allowed for human consumption. It will be impossible for consumers to differentiate between gm brinjal and natural brinjal once the product hits the market, said Bhaskar Goswami of the Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security, Delhi.

The farmers protest comes days after Greenpeace confirmed the presence of illegally genetically modified food in India. Tests conducted in a French laboratory revealed that PepsiCos Dorito corn chips contained gm Mon 863 and NK 603 variety of corn ingredients. None of these gm varieties have been approved in India for human consumption.

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