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Greenpeace slams Moily for allowing GM field trials

Posted on Feb 28 2014 | IBNS

New Delhi, Feb 28 : Non-governmental environmental organization, Greenpeace on Friday demanded the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Veerappa Moily to explain on what grounds he has allowed the field trials for Genetically Modified (GM) food crops.

This decision is in contrast to the stand taken by the former environment ministers Jairam Ramesh and Jayanthi Natarajan, sources said.

"The environment minister has the moral obligation to explain to the citizens of this country what has changed since his predecessors took proactive positions to save our food. Various stakeholders, including the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC), Technical Expert Committee (TEC) of the Supreme Court have pointed out the shortcomings of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). The minister should further explain why a hasty decision of clearing field trials was taken while the Supreme Court decision is pending on the matter," said Neha Saigal, Campaigner, Greenpeace India.

In 2012, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture had clearly recommended a moratorium on field trials until a strong regulatory system is put in place and strongly recommended a precautionary approach to GM crops, Greenpeace said.

Saigal said, "They also recommended a new road map for food security as GM crops will not help us get there. The government ignored this report and went about their mindless promotion of GM crops along with the biotech industry."

She added, "The final report by the Supreme Court appointed a Technical Expert Committee (TEC), which also strongly suggested the inadequacies of our regulatory system under the GEAC and like the PSC recommended a moratorium on GM field trials of Bt food crops and crops that are a centre of origin and diversity in India till we have a new regulatory system."

"With the elections around the corner the government should sense the opposition for GM crops around the country and commit to a Biosafety Protection Regime instead of the GEAC or BRAI," Saigal said.

According to Greenpeace, the BRAI Bill, which was the proposed regulator by the Ministry of Science and Technology was a single window clearance mechanism for GM crops and was rejected by the public, parliamentarians and four state governments- West Bengal, Chattisgarh, Odisha and Madhya Pradesh.

This is also a massive show of strength towards rejection of GMOs, the environmental organizations noted.

"The bill lapsed because it was not able to address people's concerns. The environment minister should have focussed on a regulator that protects Biosafety instead," Greenpeace said.

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