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Government firm on taking action against pvt players in GM oilseeds

Today the growth of Genetically Modified seeds has become a matter of concern in India. While the apex court has stated it “disastrous”, the Government is yet to incise the wings of the private companies which have bothered India’s local edible oil production system. The Minister of States for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Anil Madhav Dave asserted that whenever his ministry will get reports on table, he will be taking action.

Global oilseed, agribusiness and biotech corporations are engaged in a long-term attack on India’s local cooking oil producers. In just 20 years, they have reduced India from self-sufficiency in cooking oil to importing half its needs. Now the government’s attempts to impose GM mustard seed threaten to wipe out a crop at the root of Indian food and farming traditions. 

The MoS mentioned that, “Reports are available on public domain. But we are yet to get reports in our hand. Whenever we will get any such report which violates the environmental rules, I will take stringent action.”

Dave also mentioned that, “It is because of the huge market demand and that is provoking the growth of such private companies, who all are cultivating such seeds.”

In 2013, India’s former Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar accused US companies of derailing the nation’s oilseeds production program. Similar claims had been made in 1998 concerning the so-called mustard oil tragedy when Rajasthan Oil Industries Association claimed that a “conspiracy” was being hatched and that the “invisible hands of the multinationals” were involved.

“India was almost self-sufficient in edible oils by the mid-1990s, but by 2014 it was the world’s biggest importer of cooking oils,” Dave added.

“India now meets more than half its cooking oil requirements through imports, with palm oil shipped from abroad with devastating impacts on the environment.” he also added.

At the same time, there is a push to get GM mustard (and other crops) commercialised and grown in Indian fields. Scientists and Environmentalists are also urging the civil society to protest against such commerical drive, the noted molecular scientist also warned the government of “losing face”.

However, an Environment Ministry sub-committee report declared the GM mustard technology safe for consumption and environment, saying that it does not raise any public health concerns for human beings and animals, but environmentalists are not satisfied and have been demanding that the ministry should make all the documents on the study available.

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