Major Farmer Unions of India Reject GM Mustard

Ask Javadekar not to allow GEAC to proceed with its Secret Meeting to process GM Mustard Application on Feb.5th

(New Delhi, February 3rd, 2016) All major farmer unions of India, in a joint statement, have slammed the Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change for allowing the regulatory body for transgenics to meet on February 5th to decide on the fate of GM mustard. They demanded that the secret meeting of the regulator be cancelled immediately by the Minister. “All major mustard growing states in India, including BJP-ruled states, heeding to citizens’ voices and scientific advice, have come out against GM mustard.  They have also expressed concern about the secretive processes adopted by the regulators and for not putting out biosafety data in the public domain. The Supreme Court has issued notices to the Centre’s regulators on a contempt petition. Despite all of this, Prakash Javadekar is allowing Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to hold its meeting to process the GM mustard application on Friday (Feb.5th). It makes us wonder what and wherefrom is the need and pressure emerging from”, they said. They objected to the secretive manner in which the government is proceeding on this matter, without public scrutiny of data or any public consultations including with farmers’ unions, despite the GMO being created ostensibly for farmers’ benefit.

The farmer unions pointed out that the government is pushing unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs on the farming community, when viable and feasible alternatives that are safe, affordable and farmer-controlled are already available that need to be promoted with farmers for sustainable farm livelihoods. In the case of mustard for instance, there are non-transgenic hybrids already available in the market, in addition to high-yielding mustard varieties. Further, new agro-ecological approaches like System of Mustard Intensification (SMI) are out-yielding these unsafe solutions significantly, ensuring vastly-increased profitability for farmers, if yield is a concern in the first instance. Such alternatives are not however being invested upon by the government, probably because of collusion with the seed and chemical industry. The experience with Bt cotton, which has not addressed the issue of farm crisis or reduced the number farm suicides is another example. This year, lakhs of farmers in Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Karnataka and Telangana suffered due to whitefly and pink bollworm attack on Bt cotton while the seed companies are going scot-free without being made accountable for the losses. Leaders of the farmer unions pointed out that after 13 years of Bt cotton in India, the myth around GM crops has been busted fully, while a deadly unaccountable experiment was unleashed on the lives of farmers. Agro-chemical usage has gone up in cotton, including of pesticides, and most cotton seed in the market is today controlled by one MNC, known for its anti-farmer operations – Monsanto.

There was deep concern expressed about control in farming wrested from farmers’ hands into the hands of agro-industry, whether it be of seed companies or chemical companies. The developers of GM mustard hold several patents related to the product, and are obviously free to sell these IPRs to any large corporation despite wearing the garb of public sector scientists at this point of time. There is also the question of native seed varieties being contaminated by GM mustard. Foreign genes related to male sterility and herbicide tolerance will then affect the crop of non-GM growers also. There are many farmers in north India who also take up bee-keeping along with mustard cultivation, and scientific evidence on GM mustard shows that bee population will get affected. This would lead to losses in both mustard production and honey production for these farmers, they pointed out. The farmer unions also informed that while there are many extant farmers’ varieties waiting to be registered with the Plant Varieties Protection and Farmers Rights Authority, this is not happening while public-sector and private-sector varieties are being prioritized for the purpose. Why is the government not protecting these farmers’ varieties and promoting the same, they demanded to know.

These farmer unions warned that the fate of the government in the case of GM mustard will be that of an unwanted land ordinance that the government pressed for again and again, uncaring of the public mood and demand. They reiterated that they will resist any environmental release approval of any GMO in the country with all their strength, and work towards real solutions that will support farm livelihoods.

For more information, contact:

Shri Mohinimohan Misra (BKS): 090136-19587

Com Malla Reddy (AIKS): 094900-98666

Shri Yudhvir Singh (AICCFM): 098681-46405

Union representatives:

  1. Com Hannan Mollah, General Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (36 Canning Lane)
  2. Yudhvir Singh, General Secretary, All India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (AICCFM)
  3. Mohinimohan Misra, National Secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS)
  4. Atul Kumar Anjan, General Secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (Ajay Bhawan)
  5. Yogendra Yadav, Jai Kissan Andolan
  6. Raghav Sharan Sharma, President, All India Agragami Kissan Sabha
  7. Ch. Rakesh Tikait, National Spokesman, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU)
  8. Ram Pal Jat, National President, Kissan Mahapanchayat
  9. Chamarasa Malli Patil, President, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
  10. Baburam Sharma, President,  All India Krantikari Kissan Sabha
  11. Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Punjab
  12. Uttam Gayen, General Secretary, Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity, West Bengal
  13. K. Sella Mutthu, President, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
  14. Maganbhai Patel, President, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS),  Gujarat
  15. S. Malla Reddy,  Vice President, All India Kisan Sabha
  16. Badribhai Joshi, Secretary, Khedut Samaj, Gujarat
  17. Badri Narayan Chaudhary, Mahamantri, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Rajasthan
  18. Virendra Kumar Shrivastava, President, Laghu Simant Krishak Morach, Uttar Pradesh
  19. Chukki Najundawamy, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS)
  20. KT Gangadhar, Coordinator, South India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (SICCFM)
  21. Ambubhai Patel, Secretary,  Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Gujarat
  22. Vijay Jawandhia, Shetkari Sangathana, Maharashtra
  23. B. Chandra Reddy, Secretary, Telangana Rythu Sangham
  24. Kodand Reddy, President,  Kisan Khet Mazdoor Congress,  Telangana
  25. Saroj Mohanty, Paschim Odisha Krushak Samanvay Samiti
  26. Sagar Rabari, Secretary, Khedut Samaj, Gujarat
  27. Bhagwan Dadhich, Kisan Sewa Samiti, Rajasthan
  28. Jayant Verma, Vice President, All India Agragami Kissan Sabha
  29. Kiran Vissa, Raithu Swarajya Vedika, Telengana
  30. Rajesh Singh Chouhan, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Uttar Pradesh
  31. Ms. Rajariga, President, Women Wing, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
  32. Gurman Singh, President, Bhartiya Kissan Union, Haryana
  33. K.P Illias, Secretary, Kerala Jaiva Karshaka Samithi
  34. S. Kannaiyan, Secretary, South India Coordination Committee of Farmers Movement (SICCFM)
  35. KS Puttanaiah (MLA), Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS),
  36. Selvam,  Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation
  37. Jagdish Singh, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Madhya Pradesh
  38. Vidyadhar Olkha, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Rajasthan
  39. Pradeep Singh Thakur, General Secretary, All India Krantikari Kissan Sabha
  40. Ms. Nilam Prabhat, State Coordinator,  Aroh Mahila Kisan Manch, Uttar Pradesh
  41. Ratan Singh Mann, State President,  Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Haryana
  42. Vettavalam ManiKandan, President, Thamizaga Vivasaayikal Sangam, Indhiya Uzavar Uzaippaligal Katchi
  43. Nallagounder, Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Tamil Nadu Farmers Association
  44. Davison, Kerala Coconut Farmers Association
  45. Gomathinayagam, President, Vivasaya Seva Samgam-Puliangudi, Thirunelveli Dist
  46. Vellaiyan, President, Tamilnadu Vanigar Peravai, Chennai
  47. Sukhdev Singh Gill, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU),  Himachal Pradesh
  48. Satnam Singh Cheema, State President, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Uttrakhand
  49. Dhan Singh Sherawat, Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Maharashtra
  50. Virendra Dagar, State President Bhartiya Kissan Union (BKU), Delhi Rural
  51. Pamayan, Thalaanmai Farmers Movement
  52. Adv Pradeep Kumar, Kerala Haritha Sena
  53. Balaji Sankar, Tharcharbu Iyakkam
  54. Pasya Padma, Secretary, Telangana Rythu Sangham