Indians Resist Government Fast-tracking Of GM Crops
Though Americans are engrossed in their own battle against the biotech take-over of the agriculture industry, it’s important not to forget that other countries are facing the same pressure from GM advocates–and often without the same resources for resistance.
Early this year, India chose to defer the commercial cultivation of what would have been its first genetically modified (GM) vegetable crop due to safety concerns and negative feedback from the public.
Nevertheless, the government forged ahead with the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India [BRAI] bill, a measure designed to “facilitate the back door entry of Bt Brinjal and GM Rice,” according to critics.
Responding to the content of the draft bill, Jai Krishna, a local sustainable Agriculture campaigner for Greenpeace said, “it’s outrageous that the government is trying to lower the bar for bio-safety tests of GM food crops through the proposed regulatory system.”
The bill, which was suspiciously proposed by science and technology minister Prithviraj Chavhan, aims to ease the introduction of genetically modified food into India and appease foreign biotech corporations who are eager to develop a stronghold there.
“This draft bill further exposes Science and Technology minister Prithviraj Chavan direct links with the GM industry,” Krishna commented. “Instead of working closely with the environment and health ministers to strengthen bio-safety regulation and safeguard human health respectively, Chavan is trying to change the rules of the game to facilitate the back door entry of Bt Brinjal and GM Rice.”
In a July 2009 official response to former Union health Minister Anbumani Ramdoss, minister Chavan was caught using unsubstantiated GM industry data to support his promotion of GM crops.
Although India might seem worlds away from the fight to restrict and properly label GMOs in America, it should come as no surprise that one of the biggest corporate forces trying to establish biotech crops there is Indian seed company Mahyco – a partner of US multinational corporation Monsanto.
To draw attention to Chavan’s intentions, Greenpeace volunteers are demanding a citizen’s arrest of the minister. Concerned individuals are encouraged to show their support by sending Chavan an email expressing their rejection of all GM crops.
Image: Brinjal are also known as eggplant in North America and aubergine in Europe.
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons - mckaysavage