Amid reports that the central government was considering a proposal to permit cultivation of GM mustard, a section of farmers, scientists and civil society organisations urged the West Bengal government on Monday to “assert itself with the Centre” and ban its cultivation in the state.
The Coalition for a GM Free West Bengal said Bengal, being the largest consumer of mustard and also one of the largest producers of mustard in the country, would “suffer the most” if GM mustard is introduced.
According to geneticist Tushar Chakraborty, the GM mustard in question — named DMH 11 (Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11) — has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, Delhi University with support from the Department of Biotechnology and the National Dairy Development Board.
“In contrary to the yield enhancement claims of GM mustard developers, in reality, productivity is not an issue at all to the farmers, if farmer-friendly policies are put into place by the government, including the right price signals and actual procurement. This GM mustard is not required and will impact farm livelihoods adversely,” said Chakraborty, a member of the state Biotechnology Council.
“It is outrageous that GM food crops are being pushed without adequate safety assessment and transparency,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, co-convenor of the Coalition for a GM Free India.
“If the Centre goes ahead with the commercial cultivation, then there is a chance that the Bengal government’s policy which bans GM crops would be trampled upon. So we request the state government to assert itself with the Centre and not introduce GM Mustard and GM crops in general,” Kuruganti said.