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Farmer body asks Govt to put GM mustard on hold

Expressing concern over the Centre’s push for GM mustard, a farmers’ front on Thursday asked the government to float an “effective” regulatory mechanism to look into the crop’s possible impact on bio-safety and bio-diversity.

All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), a farmers’ wing of CPI (M), also asked the government to put on hold its meeting tomorrow with Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which is going to take a call on the GM mustard crop.

“AIKS calls upon the Environment and Forest Ministry to put on hold the GEAC meeting and instead make serious efforts towards setting up an effective regulatory mechanism to look into transgenic and possible impact on bio-safety and bio-diversity,” the AIKS said in a statement.

Noting that the bio-diversity and bio-safety of “humans, animals and environment cannot be compromised”, AIKS demanded that the Centre should put all data related to the crop in public domain for independent scientific scrutiny. “Unless and until a broad regulatory body equipped to make stringent long-term tests in a fool-proof manner is in place, no approval for new varieties should be allowed,” it said.

AIKS said that “seed monopolies” are allegedly letting farmers to sell Bt Cotton at high prices and the seed producers were refusing to adhere to government decisions on controlling prices.

It said that lakhs of cotton farmers suffered due to whitefly and pink bollworm attack this year, while seed companies were going “scot-free” without being made accountable for the losses. “Hence, we demand a legislation to fix liability of seed monopolies. In the absence of these measures, AIKS will resist imposition of GM Mustard. AIKS calls upon all its units to remain vigilant and protest against such moves by the government,” it said.
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