Says GM crop is an attack on Punjab's identity
EXCERPT: Genetically-modified (GM) mustard could become a poll issue in the upcoming Punjab Assembly Elections, 2017, with debutante Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) promising to take it up vehemently.
AAP up in arms against genetically-modified mustard, says an attack on Punjab's identity
India Today, 8 Sept 2016
* AAP minister Kapil Mishra said the party would mobilise environmentalists, farmers' groups and consumer unions on GM mustard's "hazardous effects".
Genetically-modified (GM) mustard could become a poll issue in the upcoming Punjab Assembly Elections, 2017, with debutante Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) promising to take it up vehemently.
AAP Minister, Kapil Mishra, told Mail Today on Wednesday that the "harmful" mutated version was a "direct attack on Punjab's identity which is known for its lush yellow, mustard fields". He said the party would mobilise environmentalists, farmers' groups and consumer unions on GM mustard's "hazardous effects".
AAP TO HOLD PROTESTS AND DEMONSTRATIONS IN DELHI
It is also planning unique protests and demonstrations in the Capital. Mishra said he was planning a "Mustard food fair" for Parliamentarians, along with performances by folk singers and dancers. The fair would feature authentic Indian dishes like Sarson Da Saad and Makke Di Roti, Bengali preparations with Hilsa fish, pickles etc. "The message we want to give out is that this could be the last time you are having a dish with native Indian mustard seeds, and you may never get this again," Mishra said.
A technical agency of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) cleared the GM Mustard seed varieties developed by Delhi University (DU), on September 5. The body, under MoEF's Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), ruled its consumption as 'safe for human and animal health,' also, 'not posing any threat to biodiversity.' It posted the report on its website inviting public comments/objections by October 5, before taking a final decision.
Mishra said, "I am surprised how the BJP government at the Centre has provided only a month's window period for illiterate and semi-educated farmers alike to respond to this report. These are highly technical matters. Plus, you want farmers to give their suggestions in a specific prescribed format. We will lodge our protest in writing with MoEF."
AAP DEMANDS OPEN PUBLIC HEARINGS
He added, "We demand open public hearings in villages like Congress's Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh conducted. Also, people should be allowed to come to the central government and give their comments freely, in whichever language they please.
We would take our movement to all major mustard producing states like Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat," he added. AAP is also disappointed with BJP-ruled states like Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan; the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and Swadeshi Jagran Manch for not speaking up on the issue while opposing GM Mustard tooth-and-nail in the Congress regime.
Mishra said, "It is fascinating how Baba Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravishankar have nothing to say now, when they were so vocal about it previously." Punjab, among a host of states lined up for elections next year, could see polls in January itself. Along with Haryana, it produces about 10-12 per cent of India's total mustard seeds. As per the 'Central Organisation for Oil Industry and Trade,' these two States generated seven lakh tonnes of mustard seeds, out of India's total tally of 58 lakh tonnes in Rabi season of 2015-16.
India's demand for mustard oil, however, remains enormous and insatiable. In 2014-15, India imported 1.45 cr. tonnes of edible oils valued at $10.5 billion. That included nearly 4 lakh tonnes of imported rapeseed oil. Scientists say GM mustard would yield up to 30 percent higher than normal varieties, enabling the government to slash its import bill.