Two RSS-linked outfits after meeting environment minister Prakash Javadekar on Tuesday said the clearance given by the biotech regulator for field trials of genetically-modified crops has been put on hold, but the government said no decision has been taken. Representatives of Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kissan Sangh met Javadekar and sought a ban on field trials of GM crops of certain varieties of rice, brinjal and cotton among others.
They apprised him about their concerns over the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) clearing 15 proposals for confined field trials for rice, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton.
They claimed the minister has assured them that the decision about field trials of GM crops has been “put on hold”.
"The minister assured the delegation that the decision about the field trials of GM Crops has been put on hold by the government," All-India Co-convener of the Manch Ashwani Mahajan said.
When contacted, Javadekar confirmed the meeting but asserted that the government has not taken any decision on the contentious issue.
"The government has not taken any decision on the issue. The government will not take any decision in haste," he said.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had earlier this month cleared 15 proposals for confined field trials for rice, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton.
The delegation reminded the minister that the parliamentary standing committee on agriculture in its report on GM food crops — prospects and impacts, tabled in Parliament on August 9, 2013, has clearly recommended the 'stopping of all field trials under any garb'.
The Manch and Sangh members told the minister that it is "not advisable" to allow GM crops without proper scientific evaluation about their probable long-term impact on human health and soil. They said, "the technology, which involves introducing a 'foreign' gene, is dangerous because once introduced, it is irreversible... Once you have a GM crop, you cannot reverse the process if you find that it is causing harm."
They contended there is no scientific study to prove that GM technology does increase productivity, as is claimed by the promoters of the technology.