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Greenpeace challenges Pawar on GM crops

Posted on Feb 20, 03:24PM | IBNS

New Delhi, Feb 20 : : Rejecting Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar's stance on GM (Genetically Modified) crops being the answer to India's food security question, 12 Greenpeace activists unfurled a massive banner with the message "Say NO to GM, Yes to Food Security" at the Food Corporation of India's godown in Delhi's Mayapuri area on Wednesday.

As the parliament prepares to kick off the budget session Thursday, Greenpeace says their "act reiterates that the solution lies in adopting a holistic view of food security with focus on better food distribution systems rather than promoting false solutions like genetically modified crops (GM)."

The police immediately came at the venue and detained the activists, they were later taken to Mayapuri police station.

Commenting on the detention, social activist Aruna Roy said, "The Greenpeace activists peacefully protesting against the position taken by Union Agri Minister, Sharad Pawar have been illegally detained. This detention is one more in a series of actions taken by the State to suppress dissent."

"They were in fact protesting against the Minister's attempt to trivialise the issue of food security by asserting that the controversial GM technology would, infact, offer security of food production. The Minister's support for GM food crops is highly controversial and there is an ongoing international debate on this issue. We condemn the detention and demand immediate release of peaceful protestors."

In the Monsoon Session of 2012, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture tabled their report on GM crops.

Greenpeace says one of the clear recommendations of the report was for the government to come up with a fresh road map to food security that does not adopt risky technologies like GM but addresses the shortcomings of storage, distribution and mismanagement of stocks. GM food crops are a panacea for food security is an argument made to serve the interests of the biotech sector.

Echoing the voice of the Parliamentary Committee, more than 150 scientists from across the country have written to Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, expressing their displeasure at the Govt of India for promoting GM crops as a way forward for food security.

Neha Saigal, campaigner, Greenpeace India said, 'so far there has been no single GM crop developed for increasing yields and it has failed to show any such increase in yield in nearly 2 decades of its existence.

"Instead of forcing risky GM food down our throats, Mr Pawar needs to address the fact that millions of tonnes of grains in storage facilities across India, consistently fail to reach the people. And, as the environment minister, Smt Natarajan should take an unequivocal stand on GM crops", Saigal added.

"The UPA Government must not be distracted by GM crops as a solution to food security, but focus on an inclusive and comprehensive food security bill, as a crucial option to end hunger and malnutrition," said Kavita Srivastava, convenor, Right to Food campaign.

Greenpeace urged Jayanthi Natarajan, the decision maker on the environmental release of GMOs to intervene so that the MoA does not mislead the debate of food security.