Fbae Logo
Home | | Support Us | Contact Us
Goals & Objectives Our Position Special Topics Important Publications Important Links Events News Biosafety
Fbae Header Home





Government against GM Seed Trials: Minister
The Hindu,
June 15 2008

'Move will guard State's spices'-says Swaminathan panel has opposed GM trials

Rules out any knowledge of field trials in Palakkad

Thiruvananthapuram: Agriculture Minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has reiterated the State government stand against field trials of genetically modified seeds.

Addressing the "National Summit on GM Crops," organised by the Sastra Vedi, an arm of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee, here on Saturday, Mr. Ratnakaran said the decision not to allow field trials would protect Kerala's spices which had a large market in European countries that were
opposed to GM crops and food.

The situation was serious enough for India to declare the basmati growing tracts of Western India as GM free zone, he said. Besides, M.S. Swaminathan Committee report had opposed GM trials in biodiversity hotspots of the Western Ghats and the Himalayas.
The State Government stand was that the trials should not be conducted when the entire world was debating the pros and cons of GM crops and food. Even in the U.S., which had adopted GM crops in a large scale, the debate was going on with farmers, academics and environmentalists opposing huge multinationals such as Monsanto. Environmentalists had opposed GM crops on the ground that it was against nature.
Out of the 147 countries that participated in the recent U.N. bio safety conference in Bonn, 146 had opposed GM crops. The U.S. was the only supporter of GM crops, Mr. Ratnakaran said.
He recalled how the approval committee for BT cotton could not give a fair answer to the Supreme Court's queries on its impact on health. Subsequently, the court inducted Dr. Swaminathan and Pushp Bharghava to re-examine the issue. Mr. Ratnakaran said the claims that BT cotton had led to increase in productivity was debatable, considering the high farmers' suicide rates in the cotton belt of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
He also referred to the connection between the country's fight against imperialism and cotton during the freedom struggle to emphasise that the country should be wary of such forces.

Referring to the reported field trials in Palakkad, the Agriculture Minister said the State government would not allow field trials till there was a consensus on the issue. Besides, the farmers, the State
government and other stakeholders were not informed about the trials, he said. He called for more debates on issues related to productivity, impact on human, biodiversity, culture and life styles.