Amid intense public debate over the impact of Genetically Modified (GM) crops on health and environment, thousands of farmers from across the country will assemble in the city on Thursday to make an appeal to policy makers for infusion of bio-technology to increase agricultural productivity in the country which needs uninterrupted supply of food-grains in adequate quantity to feed its growing population.
The farmers will make this pitch merely days after thousands of anti-GM crops activists strongly appealed to the government not to allow even field trials of genetically engineered crops in India.
The activists also wanted the government to withdraw the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill which, they believe, would only facilitate commercial use of GM crops in India through a single-window clearance.
However, the farmers — who will assemble at Jantar Mantar under the banners of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA) and the Shetkari Sanghatana – will try to impress upon the government the importance of technology, highlighting how the genetically modified foods are being used successfully in many countries like USA, Canada, Brazil and Argentina without showing sign of any adverse impact on health of consumers.
Dismissing the anti-GM crops debate as ones which is dominated by fear and prejudice, P Chengal Reddy, secretary general of the CIFA, said, “We have decided to make people aware of the importance of bio-technology in agriculture and expose the duplicity of both political leadership and NGOs who have been opposed to it without any evidence”.
Reddy said the farmers’ organizations would also try to convince the policy makers, arguing how the technology is needed not only to increase productivity but also make farming attractive to poor farmers who have to live in abject poverty in absence of any support from government or private agencies through investment in the agriculture sector.
Many anti-GM crops organizations, including Greenpeace, have a strong reservation against the use of genetically modified food. They have, over the years, put forward arguments and scientific findings, forcing the government to tread very cautiously in this area.
Rajesh Krishnan, co-convenor of the Coalition for GM Free India, said individual genes as well as the genetic engineering process are known to create a lot of adverse health and environmental impacts, as documented in scientific studies all over the world.
The coalition will, in fact, on Friday submit a memorandum comprising over three lakh signed petitions to T Subbarami Reddy – the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee of science & technology and environment & forest – asking him to suggest the government to withdraw the controversial BRAI Bill. The parliamentary panel is currently reviewing the Bill which was introduced in Lok Sabha in April.
(Source – http://www.blackseagrain.net/novosti/pro-gm-crops-groups-to-pitch-for-use-of-biotech-in-farming)