Genetically modified crops

The Government has, finally, agreed to introduce genetically modified crops in this country. The first GM crop will be that of mustard. In taking this decision, the Government has chosen to ignore informed opinion that was firmly against the introduction of genetically modified or GM crops for a whole host of purely scientific reasons. In the process, the Government has also chosen to brush aside the strong reservations of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, an outfit of the Sangh Parivar itself. Studying the genesis of the sustained move to introduce GM crops in India, there is little scope of contradicting certain facts.
These are, first, GM crops will destroy the seed variety in the country as the farmers will be forced to be dependent only on one variety to be obtained only from one multinational. Secondly, the fertilizer for growing GM crops will be available from only one (monopoly) supplier and after using that fertilizer for a successive number of years, no other fertilizer (organic or inorganic) can be applied in that soil. Thirdly, the introduction of one GM crop after another will, in a few years, make the entire Indian agriculture dependent on a few foreign multinationals which will supply the seed, the fertilizer, and the new varieties of GM crops.  Agriculture as such and the cultivation of individual agricultural crops will be determined by a handful of foreign multinationals driven by the sole motive of profit maximization.
It may be recalled that the West Bengal State Agriculture Commission in its report submitted in 2009, incorporated two annexures, one titled Genetic Engineering in Agriculture and Corporate Engineering and another titled Who Benefits from GM Crops? Feeding the Biotech Giants, Not the World’s Poor had gone into every scientific aspect of the issue, named the individual multinational companies that were promoting GM seeds especially in the Third World countries. A tell-tale passage in the first-named annexure says: “We examine the ways in which one large and important producer of genetically modified (GM) crops – Monsanto – has engineered public opinion to reduce critical scrutiny of the risks of this rapidly evolving technology … to silence debate on the topic, and to challenge critics as technophobics. This PR strategy removes debate that is vital for public and environmental health, particularly when the risks and benefits of GM crops still remain undecided at best.”
No further comment, it would seem, is necessary. But, for the doubting Thomases, one question can be posed. This report is of 2009. In the eight years that have gone by, has any scientific and credible research been done to conclusively confirm the supposed benefits of G.M. crops?  Will the Prime Minister and the Agriculture Minister respond?

Tuesday, 16 May, 2017