Delhi CM Kejriwal gets a unique gift from citizens fighting GM mustard
September 2, 2016 0 Comments
New Delhi, September 1st 2016: Braving heavy downpour, a group of citizens landed at Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s office today, urging him to proactively intervene in the matter of GM mustard which the Government of India’s regulators are considering for approval. If approved, this would be the first time that a Genetically Modified food crop would have been allowed for commercial cultivation in India. This GM mustard has been created with 3 bacterial genes inserted unnaturally and there is controversy around its safety and its very need. The citizens’ group gifted Kejriwal with non-toxic organic mustard oil, to gently point out that if he does not intervene in the matter now along with other key political leaders and state governments, this could be his last chance to consume non-GM, safe mustard oil. The citizens pointed out that consumers’ right to informed choices will be infringed upon if GM mustard is approved by the Centre.
In the absence of Arvind Kejriwal in the office, the group was met by Satinder Jain, Health Minister and Kapil Mishra, Tourism Minister, on behalf of the Delhi government. The citizens urged Aam Aadmi Party as well as Delhi government to stand on the side of citizens’s health and environment and ensure that the Government of India does not approve GM mustard.
The Ministers assured the citizens that Delhi government is indeed opposed to GM foods, recognises the hazards of the technology and would do everything possible to protect consumer health and choices. They reminded the group that Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia had already written to the Prime Minister in the past on the subject. Aam Aadmi Party’s manifesto also committed itself to a precautionary approach on the issue, promising to protect health and environment from the risks involved. The Health and Tourism Ministers assured the group that the Delhi CM will write to the Prime Minister soon, pointing out that the citizens of Delhi are not in favour of the production or consumption of this GM mustard or other GM crops.
“This GM mustard is unneeded, given that many other non-transgenic successful alternatives like System of Mustard Intensification exist for yield improvements”, pointed out Ashish Gupta, social entrepreneur promoting safe food for Delhi’ites. He said that this GM mustard is a herbicide tolerant crop which means that more chemicals will be used in mustard farming leading to environmental impacts like adverse effects on honeybees etc., and will also mean greater toxic chemical residues in consumer food. Most importantly, consumers will not be able to distinguish between GM and non-GM mustard and this infringement on our choices is unacceptable, he said.
“GM foods are rejected all over the world, except in a handful of countries. We urged the health minister who has the mandate to keep our health protected, and safe food available to citizens, to intervene in the matter. Given the large body of evidence that is available on the adverse impacts of GM crops, citizens are indeed worried about their health and their children’s health”, said Ashima Khemka, mother of a young child.
Hartej Singh Mehta, a farmer from Punjab who joined the delegation along with a few farmers from Punjab said that it is important that governments in neighboring states like Punjab stop the potential entry of GM mustard seeds, as such food will then come into Delhi and impact citizens health here, in addition to where it is grown.