- Should we grow GM crops?
- Shigella is a species of enteric bacteria that causes disease in humans and other primates.
- Patients develop diarrhoea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria.
- Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days.
- Some people who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.
- The spread of Shigella can be stopped by frequent and careful handwashing with soap and taking other hygiene measures.
Should we grow GM crops?
- The current decision to commercialise Herbicide Tolerant (HT) Mustard DMH 11 is considered to be ill-conceived.
- Herbicides are chemicals used to kill weeds. According to experts, herbicide tolerant plants will lead to an increased use of toxic chemicals on plants. This in turn will adversely affect human and animal health as well as the environment. Also, this is a sign that the industry wants to move to the agrochemicals market.
- The U.S. invented GMOs and commercialised them despite serious safety concerns expressed by government scientists. It was in 2002 that Bt cotton, a non-food crop, was introduced in India by Monsato- the first genetically modified crop to be approved for cultivation in the country
- Those supporting GM Mustard claim that its introduction will increase yields and help lessen India’s dependenceon the rising imports of edible oil.
- Glyphosate, categorised by the World Health Organization as a “probable carcinogen”, is an endocrine (hormone) disruptor. No regulatory agency anywhere regulates for endocrine disruption despite overwhelming evidence from Argentina of horrendous birth defects because of glyphosate used in herbicide-tolerant (HT) soybeans.
- Bayer’s glufosinate, the herbicide linked with Indian HT mustard, is an acknowledged neurotoxin banned in the EU. The Supreme Court-appointed technical expert committee recommended a ban on any HT crop in India for this among several other reasons.
- GMOs are self-replicating organisms and genetic contamination of the environment, of non-GM crops and wild species through gene flow is certain: it cannot be contained, reversed, remedied or quantified
- The current stable of GMOs comprises just two products, Bt (e.g. Bt cotton) and HT crops (HT mustard), and they account for nearly 99% of GMOs planted worldwide. Both, on empirical evidence (including India’s Bt cotton), are proven unsustainable technologies.
- The HT mustard field trials, which were accessed under the Right to Information Act, are a revelation of regulatory shambles. This hybrid-making HT mustard, on the government’s own admission in the Supreme Court, has not out-yielded our best non-GMO hybrids and varieties.
- Our seed stock will also be contaminated at the molecular level. Any toxicity that there is will remain in perpetuity. The traits for disease, saline and drought resistance, yield, etc. are found in nature, not biotech labs. We must maintain India’s still-rich genetic diversity for the future of our agriculture.
- Nearly 50-60 % of the honey produced in India is through mustard crop and the GM crop is also facing resistance from honey makers in India, who state that the technology will harm honey bees.
- There are promises of GMOs with traits for disease, drought etc., but these are complex, multi-gene traits and remain futuristic.