सीधे मुख्य सामग्री पर जाएं

Unscientific, undemocratic, unacceptably, risky: Hurried moves for GM food crops

By Bharat Dogra 

Some recent statements that have appeared in media indicate that there is a lot of pressure for very hurried introduction of genetically modified mustard crop after its approval by a regulating agency GEAC. Even the fact that on such an important matter the final government decision should be awaited has not been considered by GM lobbyists and pressure groups. In the federal democratic structure of India, on such an important issue as the introduction of GM food crops, the approval by a regulating agency is only one step. The union government is supposed to examine it carefully and then consult the state governments as well, the precedence for which is available. What about the substantial evidence available against GM food crops collected from the recent extensive debates and consultations on GM crops in India, which is contained in several official reports including reports of Parliamentary Committees? Independent health and environmental groups and experts must to be consulted too, and a review of all world-level information must be made in an unbiased way.
Farmers’ organizations must definitely be consulted too. The last time when such consultation was ignored on a very important issue (the three controversial farm laws), this led to so much avoidable discontent and agitation. Certainly farmers’ interests are closely involved in introducing any GM crop because of the risk of genetic contamination and several related factors. As a group of eminent scientists from several countries organized under the Independent Science Panel (ISP) have stated, “GM crops have failed to deliver the promised benefits and are posing escalating problems on the farm. Transgenic contamination is now widely acknowledged to be unavoidable, and hence there can be no co-existence of GM and non-GM agriculture.” In other words, those farmers who do not opt for GM crops will also be exposed to their adverse impacts. So how can you go ahead with GM crops without involving farmers and their organizations in a well-informed debate and consultation, a debate in which farmers have a chance to read not just government and business reports on the subject, but also the opinion of several eminent scientists and experts who have been warning again GM crops.
The late Prof. Pushpa M. Bhargava has been widely acknowledged to be the top authority on this issue in India. He was founder of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and was chosen by the Supreme Court as its independent observer when a case relating to this was being heard in the Supreme Court of India. Just a little before his tragic death (this was the time when the country needed him the most) he prepared a review of all the scientific literature on this issue. In this review he stated that “there are over 500 research publications by scientists of indisputable integrity, who have no conflict of interest, that establish harmful effects of GM crops on human, animal and plant health and on environment and biodiversity.” What about the papers written in support of GM crops. The review by Prof. Bhargava informs us, “On the other hand, virtually every paper supporting GM crops is by scientists who have a declared conflict of interest or whose credibility and integrity can be doubted.”
Such a situation has arisen because of the billions of dollars spent by giant agro-business multinational companies of world, often helped by their governments too, on promotion of GM crops and technology, considered to be their favored tool for gaining control of world food and farming system. Prof. Bhargava had warned that the ultimate goal of this attempt in India is to obtain control over Indian agriculture and food production. As more direct efforts by giant multinational companies attract more suspicion, they use the services of their front-men to get GM crops introduced.
All over the world there is a big movement of people for keeping farming and food system GM free. If GM food crops are introduced, this means denying farmers the domestic markets and export markets that comprise of these health conscious consumers. The USA is in risk of losing this market because of the highest concentration of GM crops there so it would like to bring potential competitors like India to the same category. Such risks are more in the case of oilseed crops as edible oils obtained from them are used to prepare so many cooked and processed foods, and mustard oil is also used for several medicinal purposes in India.
While the discourse of GM promoters, as widely seen in media, concentrates on claimed yield gains for a specific mustard variety, the many serious hazards associated with most GM crops are ignored. This is unfortunate and unscientific. As the ISP report quoted above and titled ‘The Case for A GMO Free and Sustainable World says, “By far the most insidious dangers of genetic engineering are inherent to the process itself, which greatly enhances the scope and probability horizontal gene transfer and recombination, the main route to creating viruses and bacteria that cause disease epidemics.” Shouldn’t this worry us, particularly in these times?
Further this report says, “Most important of all, GM crops have not been proven safe. On the contrary, sufficient evidence has emerged to raise serious safety concerns that, if ignored, could result in irreversible damage to health and environment. GM crops should be firmly rejected now.”
In his book ‘Genetic Roulette’, which was endorsed by several eminent experts working on food and farming issues at world level, author Jeffrey M. Smith has summarized the results of a lot of research on GM crops which indicated the following possibilities of various health risks, based on lab research on animals—stunted growth, impaired immune systems, bleeding stomachs, abnormal and potentially precancerous cell growth in the intestines, impaired blood cell development, misshapen cell structures in the liver, pancreas and testicles, altered gene expression and cell metabolism, liver and kidney lesions, inflamed kidneys, less developed brains and testicles, enlarged livers, pancreas and intestines, reduced digestive enzymes, higher blood sugar, inflamed lung tissue, increased death rates and higher offspring mortality.
Michael Antoniou, a molecular geneticist at King’s College, London, has stated, “If the kind of detrimental effects seen in animals fed GM food were observed in a clinical setting, the use of the product would have been halted and further research initiated to determine the cause and find possible solutions. However what we find repeatedly in the context of GM food is that both government and industry plough on ahead with the development, endorsement and marketing of GM foods despite the warnings of potential ill health from animal feeding studies, as if nothing has happened. This is to the point where governments and industry even seem to ignore the results of their own research!”
The available significant evidence of serious health risks and irreversible serious environmental risks, which increase in times of climate change, has become available despite many cases of victimization of scientists, suppression of research results, pre-mature ending of important research and even outright fraud to suppress this evidence of adverse impacts. Giant multinational companies leading in GM crops at world level have been made to pay millions of dollars by law courts repeatedly for the health hazards caused by them and they even try to hide their identity by merging with other companies, like the company which caused the Bhopal gas leak.
However you will never hear all this from the promoters of GM crops, all they will say is that we have received some yield gain. Hence it is important to point out that, while safety issues are much more important, in the past most claims of higher yields for GM crops have later turned out to bogus. The Union of Concerned Scientists, USA, published a report ‘Failure to Yield’ confirming that “after 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, GM crops have failed to increase yields’ and that ‘traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down.’ In a joint letter written to former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh 17 distinguished scientists from several countries had stated that claims of yield increase by GM crops are not correct. What is more they stated that this technology is “conceptually flawed, crude, imprecise and poorly controlled technology.”
To make such a technology the basis for increasing oilseed production in India is a high-risk, foolhardy proposition best discarded, keeping in view also the much wider and much more serious risks of GM crops and GM food crops. We should say a firm no to not just GM mustard but to all GM food crops and in fact to all GM crops.
The other path chosen recently of increasing edible oil supply by palm oil plantations is also environmentally a high risk path which will retard the progress of our traditional oilseed crops. Our efforts to increase oilseeds production and edible oil supply should be based on using the rich biodiversity, rotations ad mixed cropping systems of many traditional oilseed/edible crops including groundnut, mustard, sesame, coconut as well as a host of minor but valuable oilseeds with their own distinct nutrition, health and other value. If the authorities ignore this safe path and instead opt for high-risk GM Mustard and in addition palm oil plantations, they will be committing a very serious mistake.
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The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include ‘India’s Quest for Sustainable Farming and Healthy Food', ‘14 Questions about GM Crops' and ‘A Day in 2071’

टिप्पणियाँ

ट्रेंडिंग

हिंदी आलोचना जैसे पिछड़ चुके अनुशासन की जगह हिंदी वैचारिकी का विकास जरूरी

- प्रमोद रंजन*   भारतीय राजनीति में सांप्रदायिक व प्रतिक्रियावादी ताकतों को सत्ता तक पहुंचाने में हिंदी पट्टी का सबसे बड़ा योगदान है। इसका मुख्य कारण हिंदी-पट्टी में कार्यरत समाजवादी व जनपक्षधर हिरावल दस्ते का विचारहीन, अनैतिक और  प्रतिक्रियावादी होते जाना है। अगर हम उपरोक्त बातों को स्वीकार करते हैं, तो कुछ रोचक निष्कर्ष निकलते हैं। हिंदी-जनता और उसके हिरावल दस्ते को विचारहीन और प्रतिक्रियावादी बनने से रोकने की मुख्य ज़िम्मेदारी किसकी थी?

नफरती बातें: मुसलमानों में असुरक्षा का भाव बढ़ रहा है, वे अपने मोहल्लों में सिमट रहे हैं

- राम पुनियानी*  भारत पर पिछले 10 सालों से हिन्दू राष्ट्रवादी भारतीय जनता पार्टी (भाजपा) राज कर रही है. भाजपा आरएसएस परिवार की सदस्य है और आरएसएस का लक्ष्य है हिन्दू राष्ट्र का निर्माण. आरएसएस से जुड़ी सैंकड़ों संस्थाएँ हैं. उसके लाखों, बल्कि शायद, करोड़ों स्वयंसेवक हैं. इसके अलावा कई हजार वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता हैं जिन्हें प्रचारक कहा जाता है. भाजपा के सत्ता में आने के बाद से आरएसएस दुगनी गति से हिन्दू राष्ट्र के निर्माण के अपने एजेण्डे को पूरा करने में जुट गया है. यदि भाजपा को चुनावों में लगातार सफलता हासिल हो रही है तो उसका कारण है देश में साम्प्रदायिकता और साम्प्रदायिक मुद्दों का बढ़ता बोलबाला. इनमें से कुछ हैं राम मंदिर, गौमांस और गोवध एवं लव जिहाद. 

देशव्यापी ग्रामीण भारत बंध में उतरे मध्य प्रदेश के आदिवासी, किया केंद्र सरकार का विरोध

- हरसिंग जमरे, भिखला सोलंकी, रतन अलावे*  15 और 16 फरवरी को निमाड के बड़वानी, खरगोन और बुरहानपुर में जागृत आदिवासी दलित संगठन के नेतृत्व में आदिवासी महिला-पुरुषों ग्रामीण भारत बंद में रैली एवं विरोध प्रदर्शन किया । प्रधान मंत्री द्वारा 2014 में फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने का वादा किया गया था, 2016 में किसानों की आय दुगना करने का वादा किया गया था । आज, फसलों का दाम नहीं बढ़ रहा है, लेकिन खेती में खर्च बढ़ता जा रहा है! खाद, बीज और दवाइयों का दाम, तीन-चार गुना बढ़ चुका है! किसानों को लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव देने के बजाए, खेती को कंपनियों के हवाले करने के लिए 3 काले कृषि कानून लाए गए । 3 काले कानून वापस लेते समय प्रधान मंत्री ने फिर वादा किया था कि फसलों की लागत का डेढ़ गुना भाव की कानूनी गारंटी के लिए कानून बनाएँगे, लेकिन वो भी झूठ निकला! आज जब देश के किसान दिल्ली में आपको अपना वादा याद दिलाने आए है, तब आप उनका रास्ता रोक रहें है, उनके साथ मारपीट कर उन पर आँसू गैस फेंक रहें हैं, उन पर छर्रों से फायरिंग कर रहें है! देश को खिलाने वाला किसान खुद भूखा रहे, क्या यही विकास है?

18થી નાની ઉંમરના 1,15,129 બાળકો શાળા બહાર? વાસ્તવિક આંકડો 15-20 ગણો વધું

- સુખદેવ પટેલ*  16 એપ્રિલથી સમગ્ર ગુજરાતમાં શાળા બહારના 6 થી 19 વર્ષની ઉંમરના બાળકોનો સર્વે શરૂ થયો છે.  જે 26 એપ્રિલ સુધી ચાલશે. જેની જવાબદારી સરકારી શાળાના શિક્ષકોને સોંપવામાં આવી છે. અત્યારે પ્રાથમિક શાળાઓમાં વાર્ષિક પરીક્ષાઓ ચાલી રહી છે. લોકસભાની ચૂંટણીઓના કામ પણ શિક્ષકોને ભાગે કરવાના આવશે. શિક્ષકો કેટલું કરી શક્શે? શિક્ષકો પાસેથી વ્યાજબી રીતે કેટલી અપેક્ષાઓ રાખવી જોઈએ? RTE ની જોગવાઈઓ મુજબ દરેક બાળક શિક્ષણ મેળવી શકે, તે માટે શાળા બહારના બાળકોને સર્વે કરીને શોધી કાઢવાનું ઉમદા કામ સરકાર વિચારે છે, તે આવકારદાયક છે. આવાં ઉત્તમ કામમાં જેમને સીધો લાભ થવાનો છે,  તેવાં હિતધારકોની પ્રતિનિધિ સમિતિ SMC સ્કૂલ મેનેજમેન્ટ કમિટી આ જવાબદારી સારી રીતે ઉપાડી શકે તેમ છે. શિક્ષણ વિભાગ SSA તરફથી આ કામગીરીમાં SMC ની ભાગીદારીનું આયોજન કરીને યોગ્ય માર્ગદર્શિકા તૈયાર કરવી જોઈએ.

How the slogan Jai Bhim gained momentum as movement of popularity and revolution

By Dr Kapilendra Das*  India is an incomprehensible plural country loaded with diversities of religions, castes, cultures, languages, dialects, tribes, societies, costumes, etc. The Indians have good manners/etiquette (decent social conduct, gesture, courtesy, politeness) that build healthy relationships and take them ahead to life. In many parts of India, in many situations, and on formal occasions, it is common for people of India to express and exchange respect, greetings, and salutation for which we people usually use words and phrases like- Namaskar, Namaste, Pranam, Ram Ram, Jai Ram ji, Jai Sriram, Good morning, shubha sakal, Radhe Radhe, Jai Bajarangabali, Jai Gopal, Jai Jai, Supravat, Good night, Shuvaratri, Jai Bhole, Salaam walekam, Walekam salaam, Radhaswami, Namo Buddhaya, Jai Bhim, Hello, and so on.

Laxmanpur Bathe massacre: Perfect example of proto-fascist Brahmanical social order

By Harsh Thakor  The massacre at Laxmanpur-Bathe of Jehanabad in Bihar on the night of 1 December in 1997 was a landmark event with distinguishing features .The genocide rightly shook the conscience of the nation in the 50th year of Indian independence. The scale of the carnage was unparalleled in any caste massacre. It was a perfect manifestation of how in essence the so called neo-liberal state was in essence most autocratic. 

स्वास्थ्य सेवाओं को मजबूत करने के बजाय बीमा आधारित सेवाओं को प्राथमिकता क्यों?

- राष्ट्रीय स्वास्थ्य अधिकार अभियान  वैश्विक स्तर पर “विश्व स्वास्थ्य दिवस” इस साल “हमारा स्वास्थ्य, हमारा अधिकार” की अवधारणा को केन्द्रित कर मनाया जा रहा है। इस उपलक्ष्य में राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर स्वास्थ्य अधिकार संघर्ष को मजबूत करने के लिए, संवैधानिक और नीतिगत रूप में स्वास्थ्य को मौलिक अधिकार बनाने के लिए, स्वास्थ्य के विभिन्न आयामों को लोगों के हक के लिए संगठित करने, जागरूक करने और स्वास्थ्य के मानकों पर कार्य करने हेतु तथा सरकार को जनता के प्रति जिम्मेदार बनाने हेतु जन आंदोलनों के राष्ट्रीय समन्वय ने स्वास्थ्य अधिकार अभियान के माध्यम से जनता के पक्ष को मजबूत करने के लिए राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर स्वास्थ्य अधिकार के मुद्दे पर सक्रिय रूप से कार्य करेगा।

અમદાવાદ પોલિસ કમિશનરનું જાહેરનામું: નાગરિક સ્વાતંત્ર્ય પર તરાપ મારવાની પ્રક્રિયાનો એક ભાગ

- હેમંતકુમાર શાહ  અમદાવાદના પોલિસ કમિશનરનું લોકશાહી વિરોધી વધુ એક પગલું ચૂંટણી ટાણે જોવા મળ્યું છે.   તા. ૧૬-૦૪-૨૦૨૪ના રોજ તેમણે એક જાહેરનામું બહાર પાડીને ફોજદારી કાર્યવાહી અધિનિયમ-૧૯૭૩ની કલમ-૧૪૪ આખા શહેરમાં લાગુ કરી જણાવ્યું છે કે "કોઈ પણ પ્રચારપ્રસાર રેલી દરમ્યાન કોઈ એ કાળા વાવટા ફરકાવવા નહિ કે ઉશ્કેરણીજનક બેનર કે પ્લે કાર્ડ બતાવવું નહિ અથવા કોઈ વિરોધમાં ઉશ્કેરણીજનક સૂત્રોચ્ચાર કરવો નહિ."

न नौकरियाँ, न पर्याप्त मजदूरी, न राहत: अनौपचारिक श्रमिकों के लिए मोदी की विरासत

- प्रतिनिधि द्वारा  भारत में वास्तविक मज़दूरी 2014-15 के बाद से नहीं बढ़ी है, जबकि देश की जीडीपी जरूर बेहतर हुई है। इस दौरान देश की सामाजिक सुरक्षा व्यवस्था भी थम सी गई है। देश के अनौपचारिक श्रमिकों का जीवन बेहद अनिश्चित है, खासकर झारखंड जैसे राज्यों में जहां अनौपचारिक रोजगार लाखों लोगों की आजीविका का मुख्य स्रोत है।

क्या कांग्रेस का घोषणापत्र मुस्लिम लीग की सोच को प्रतिबिंबित करता है?

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