Crop this matter
LOOKS LIKE cracks in the shining armour of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government are already beginning to show. While environmental groups have been campaigning against the introduction of genetically-modified (GM) crops in India, the latest to join the anti-GM bandwagon is the economic wing of the Sangh Parivar, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) itself. The SJM has openly flayed the Modi government on their volte face over the GM crop issue, with the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) under the environment ministry on Friday giving the nod for field trials of a number of GM crops, such as rice, mustard, cotton, chickpea and brinjal. Not only does this hasty decision overlook the vast array of negative impacts on the soil and water quality as well as in food chains and web of the agrarian ecosystem, these crops have been labled biohazards by international scientific organisations working at the forefront of biotechnology. While MNC behemoths like Monsanto push the case of turning to GM crops as a panacea to solve the ever-growing food crisis, it is hotly contested by scientists with a conscience, in India and abroad. Even though US, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and China have embraced GM crops, much to the chagrin of the local and smaller farming community, whose interests have been sidelined, along with overlooking major impacts on weather and climate patterns, crop cycle as well as related ecological domino effect on dependent flora and fauna patterns, the debate rages in Europe which is still battling the demons of allowing GM crops at the expense of triggering long-term biohazards. Why, without adequate discussion, has the environment ministry cleared such a sensitive project, is the question of the hour.