GM crop field trials: anti-GM activists protest outside Moily's office

Moily’s approval will now allow event selection trials of rice, castor, cotton and a few other genetically modified crops ÒÇÇ

 
By Jyotika Sood
Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

Activists led by members of international non-profit Greenpeace and Coalition for a GM Free India protested in front of environment minister Veerappa Moily’s office on Tuesday against his decision to allow field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops.

The protesters unfurled a banner, which said, "Moily Selling the Nation", and urged politicians to come forward and save food, farming and the environment in India. They alleged that Moily had taken the side of multinational seed companies to permit hundreds of field trials, though his predecessor, Jayanthi Natarajan, had taken a cautionary approach and had put the trials on hold.

According to sources in the Union environment ministry, Moily had signed and cleared the decisions of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) around February 20. The decisions by GEAC, the apex body approving research and field trials of GM crops in India, were taken on March 22, 2013.

But former environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan had decided to hold up the trials, stating that the scientific community in the country was split vertically down the centre in its views and scientific protocols to prevent damage from GM crops were yet to be developed in India. She had disagreed with the agriculture ministry which supports the technology.

Last week while addressing media persons Moily downplayed Natarajan’s reservations and said that there was some misconception that has been cleared now and this was the reason for his green signal to the field trials of GM crops. He added that the trials had to nothing with the Supreme Court case.

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Moily’s approval for the GEAC decisions will now allow event selection trials on rice, castor, cotton and a few other crops. These GM crops are by biotech giants like Bayer Bioscience Private Limited, BASF India Limited and others. Besides, it gives nod to Monsanto India Limited to conduct field trials of GM maize with events MON 89034 and MON NK603 in Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat and a few other states.

Convenor of Coalition for a GM Free India, Rajesh Krishnan, says, "It’s clear now! Moily was brought in during the last innings to give approvals for these risky experiments of GM crops and with this one act he has again proved that they do not care about science or society when it comes to GM crops." He added that there were more than 400 scientific papers pointing towards ill-effects of the GM technology.

Greenpeace senior campaigner Neha Saigal says, "Moily's clearance for field trials just before the country is going for Lok Sabha elections smacks of impropriety, to say the least. Clearly corporate interests have won over the people of this country."

Various farmers unions and political parties like Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), JD (U) and PMK are supporting the anti-GM lobby. The recent addition was Kerala agriculture minister who had issued a public statement that his state won’t allow any field trials of GM crops.

Industry lauds minister

Meanwhile, agro-biotech industry body, Association of Biotech Led Enterprises-Agriculture Group (ABLE-AG), has welcomed removal of the restrictions on the previously approved field trials of GM crops by GEAC.

"We are hopeful that the next GEAC meeting will clear the new applications before the coming Kharif season," said Shri Ram Kaundinya, chairperson of ABLE-AG. ABLE-AG firmly believes that research and trials in GM technology should not be stopped as additional information from research and trials will help to assess the technology more accurately. it was very discouraging that the GEAC mechanism had come to a halt for the last two years.

N Seetharama, executive director ABLE-AG, issued a statement, saying, "We laud Shri Moily’s reaffirmation of his faith in the power of technology. At a time when agriculture is under severe stress and requires immediate infusion of technology and innovation, we can’t afford to ignore biotechnology which has a proven track record of enhancing crop yields in a safe and sustainable way the world over".

Earlier this year, during the Indian Science Congress, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had also termed opposition to GM crops as "unscientific prejudice".

 

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  • Whereever Mr. Veerappa Moily

    Whereever Mr. Veerappa Moily there, he serve the vested interests only. He has got bad reputation as CM also. Krishna River Tribunal serving his interests and oil minister serving RIL interest. See the following letter sent by me to Prime Minister of India on 25th February 2014 on the gas pricing issues:

    Sub: Appeal to take stringent action against Mr. Veerappa Moily, the HonÔÇÖble Minister of Oil & Gas Ministry, Reg.

    Ref.: Media reports relating a letter written by Mr. Veerappa Moily, HonÔÇÖble Minister, Oil & Gas Ministry to HonÔÇÖble Prime Minister of India regarding price of gas & termination of RIL contract

    Dear Dr. Manmohan Singhji,

    With reference to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal observations and a letter to HonÔÇÖble Prime Minister on gas pricing, HonÔÇÖble Minister of Oil & Gas, GoI, Mr. Veerappa Moily sent a letter defending the pricing ÔÇô doubling the price from 1st April 2014 ÔÇô to HonÔÇÖble Prime Minister. In this connection, Respected Sir, the following are some of my submissions to counter his arguments. This is for appropriate action.

    While the contract provides for termination in case of a default by a contractor, the oil ministry under Mr. S. Jaipal Reddy in May 2012 had slapped penalty of $1.005 billion on RIL for failing to produce natural gas in line with the pre-stated targets. Mr. Veerappa Moily in his letter to HonÔÇÖble Prime Minister states that "In view of the contractual provision under the PSC, the government will not be able to terminate the contract on account of shortfall in production as the matter is pending before the arbitral tribunal".

    This clearly indicates it is a fraudulent action by the minister as indicated by Mr. Kejriwal. The minister through this letter exposed himself that there is a nexus between him and RIL. Otherwise he would have waited for the tribunal decision before implementing the price raise to such company. The present minister is not worried on loss to nation & people but only interested to RIL getting profits.
    It states that ÔÇ£The production sharing contract (PSC) does not have any explicit provision for penalties in case of default. A contract can only be terminated in case of a defaultÔÇØ. Is it not under production a default? Then why, HonÔÇÖble Minister instead of cancelling the contract of RIL ÔÇô KG-D6 gas fields for the default helping RIL through doubling the price.

    HonÔÇÖble Minister with this letter was trying to defend his actions in doubling the price of the gas from $4.2 to $8.0, by saying that this is also beneficial to public sector firms. He quotes ONGCÔÇÖs cost of production as $3.6 per M.B.T.U. Therefore, without raising natural gas prices from April 1, 2014 several gas fields of both private sector firm RIL and state-owned ONGC would be economically unviable to produce. Here we can ask the HonÔÇÖble Minister, if all the parties would have been producing the gas at the contractual agreement level, the cost of production would have been far below $3.6 and thus they would have been earning the profits at $4.2 itself. Is it not so??? HonÔÇÖble Minister hasnÔÇÖt looked in to this aspect while the previous minister imposed fine for such action.
    The HonÔÇÖble MinisterÔÇÖs argument that "In choosing the basis for fixing the gas price, it is tempting to think that by choosing a lower price we are assuring consumers the same amount of gas supply at a lower price. The fact is that the price formula affects the investment that will be undertaken in exploration and production and therefore the total volume of gas likely to be produced", clearly reflect his vested interests. To raise the prices, international oil cartels followed lower production and this lead Middle East Oil wars. May be Mr. Verrappa Moily may not be aware of this fact.

    Appeal: Respected Sir, in view of the above, we appreciate if your good offices take stringent action against the HonÔÇÖble Minister of Oil & Gas, GoI, Mr. Veerappa Moily for the national interest. It will be dangerous to keep such people in the Cabinet.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply