Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stop Field Trials Of GM Crops In India

Stop Field Trials Of Gm Crops In India

Petition by

Rajesh Krishnan

Bangalore, India

The assault on our food, farms and environment from risky GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) continues with the new government as well despite wide spread opposition to GM crop/food in the country as well as increasing evidence on its adverse impacts on our health and the environment.

Despite all this, on 18th July 2014, in the first meeting after the new government took charge, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the nodal agency (under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change) for all environmental releases of GMOs, approved numerous field trials of GM crops including GM varieties of rice, maize, chickpea, sugarcane and importantly, Brinjal (remember how we all collectively ensured that our food is not made toxic by Bt brinjal by securing a moratorium on the same in India?).

A recent compilation1 of more than 450 scientific studies showcases much evidence on the adverse impacts of GM crops/GM food to human health, environment farm livelihoods etc. Citizens’ voices and assertion in protecting their right to safe food forced the previous government to stop Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop that came up for approval in India.

Now, Bt Brinjal along with GM varieties of many of our staples crops like rice, wheat, mustard, chickpea, maize and many vegetables are going to be let out in to the open in the name of experiments. Experiences from the past show that once let out into the open, GM crops can contaminate our regular varieties and end up in our food and environment2.

It is not just common citizens of the country who had opposed such field trials of GM crops but even the Technical Expert Committee set up by the Hon'ble Supreme Court as well as the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture.

It is clear now that whichever government is elected by the people, GEAC remains unaccountable and irresponsible and will not change from its habit of mindless promotion of GMOs.

In the past, it was the united voice of citizens all over the country that had stopped Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crops that came up for commercial approval. Similarly, we were all alert against the objectionable Biotechnology regualtory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill that was brought in to give easy approval for GMOs. The BJP government needs to be reminded of their promises and citizens' resolve to keep our food, farms and future safe from GMOs. After all, democracy is about making elected governments accountable to people, and getting our food and environment toxin-free is a basic right.

Various farmer unions, civil society groups and experts have already written to the Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change, to intervene and revoke the unscientific and unjustifiable go-ahead accorded by the Committee. All field trial clearances have to be annulled.

We need to act now. Sign the petition.


I am from the US but I also signed the above petition. We must join together globally to oppose the reckless spreading of transgenic pollution as well as the decrease of biodiversity and increase in monoculture that puts our global food supply in peril, especially regarding rapid climate changes ensuing on our planet. This is also a matter of food sovereignty.

There is also another concern as expressed in this report below:

Horizontal Transfer of GM DNA Widespread


Natural Genetic Modification and Hazards of GMOs

Horizontal Transfer of GM DNA Widespread


But No One is Looking, Almost

A culture of denial over the horizontal spread of genetically modified nucleic acids prevails in the face of direct evidence that it has occurred widely when appropriate methods and molecular probes are used for detection. Dr Mae Wan Ho

This article has been sent to Dr Kaare Nielsen in his capacity as a member of the European Food Safety Authority GMO Panel and he is given the right to reply

A culture of denial over the horizontal spread of GM nucleic acids

The first genetically modified (GM) crop was commercially approved and released into the environment 20 years ago. From the beginning, some of us have been warning repeatedly of hidden dangers from the unintended horizontal transfer of GM DNA (transgenes). A comprehensive review [1] Gene Technology and Gene Ecology of Infectious Diseases, ISIS scientific publication) and successive updates were submitted to the World Health Organization (WHO) and regulatory agencies in the US, UK and European Union (see [2] Ban GMOs Now, ISIS Report); all to no avail.

The position taken by regulators and their scientific advisors today is perhaps best represented in a recent publication [3] with lead author Kaare Nielson at Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who both advises Genøk-Centre for Biosafety and serves as member of the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) GMO panel.

The paper, entitled “Detecting rare gene transfer events in bacterial populations”, recognizes that horizontal gene transfer is part of the risk assessment for GMOs, and that the large-scale cultivation of GM-plants on more than 170 m ha worldwide results in “multitudinous opportunities for bacterial exposure to recombinant DNA and therefore opportunities for unintended horizontal dissemination of transgenes.” It admits that horizontal gene transfer has indeed been demonstrated in the laboratory. “But in natural settings, negative or inconclusive evidence has been reported from most sampling-based studies of agricultural soils, runoff water and gastrointestinal tract contents.”

It tells us that horizontal gene transfer research “suffers from significant methodological limitations, model uncertainty and knowledge gaps.” In particular, on account of the “low mechanistic probability of horizontal complex environments”, it would take “months, years, or even longer for the few initially transformed cells to divide and numerically out- compete non-transformed members of the population” for them to be “detectable.” The rest of the paper mentions a mathematical model based on those very assumptions, the most important being the very low probability of horizontal transfer; which has been contradicted by empirical evidence, most decisively from a study in China reported in 2012 [4].

I have reviewed the positive and circumstantial evidence for horizontal transfer of GM nucleic acids thoroughly in [2]. The present report updates on important new developments.

Even short and damaged DNA is readily transferred, but GM DNA still ignored

End of excerpt

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