Farmers pressurise states to introduce genetically modified mustard crops

Demanding the right to technology, the Rashtriya Kisan Progressive Association has written to Chief Ministers to clear the introduction of GM mustard.

Demanding the right to technology, the Rashtriya Kisan Progressive Association (RKPA) has written to the Chief Ministers of 22 states to pressurise the Centre to clear the introduction of GM mustard. Pointing out to a stressed rural economy, the farmers' organisation wrote to the Chief Ministers on the much-debated Genetically Modified mustard, a hybrid self-polinating crop with high yield, saying "this technology has the potential to impact millions of Indian farmers and therefore impact the national rural economy".

The Union Environment Ministry recently showed its reluctance to allow further testing of GM crops. The activists claim the GM mustard contains genes that conferred herbicide tolerance (HT) on the crop. A Supreme Court Technical Expert Committee has recommended a ban on such HT crops. "Globally, the GM crops have changed the way farmers earn their livelihood. We want our farmers to access this new revolutionary seed technology as soon as possible, which can lead to a new horizon for the mustard belt in our country. We request for support through a signature campaign involving 3,25,096 farmers from 22 states and seek the right to technology," an RKPA statement said.

GM mustard is likely to be the first transgenic seed to be available in the field. Activist groups claim it will be a gateway to several other GM crops like tomato, rice, brinjal and these may pose health and ecological risks. Currently, GM cotton is the only transgenic crop commercially available for farmer fields in India.


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