Negative reaction to media coverage on 7 “farmer organisations” urging PM to rollout GM mustard
By Kavitha Kuruganti
* More than 57 major farmer unions have already come out against the approval of GM mustard. These include Bhartiya Kisan Union, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh, All India Kisan Sabha, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangh and others. Kisan Ekta has recently passed a detailed resolution on this matter in their last convention. Further, as per the National Policy for Farmers, beekeepers and women agricultural workers also are Farmers. More than 5 lakh beekeepers in India, through the Confederation of Beekeeping Industry of India have come out against the approval of GM mustard. Women agricultural workers associated with Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch are opposing GM mustard. Thousands of organic farmers around India are opposing GM mustard and through their outfit called Organic Farming Association of India have appealed to the Agriculture Minister to stop GM mustard.
* Some organisations that are part of this umbrella network called Rashtriya Progressive Kisan Association have a dubious background as regards their primary interests, whether they exist to support farm livelihoods or to promote corporate interests.
* One of the organisations appears to have been a front organisation for the agro-chemical industry in promoting chemicals in the past and this in itself could be read as an indication of the real intent of GM crop developers and the agri-chemical industry, of promoting the use of pesticides in the form of herbicides.
*It is strange that these organizations are asking specifically for GM-based hybrids in the name of farmers because there is no proof that GM-based hybrids are higher-yielding than CMS-based hybrids. These organizations should ask for proof for how GM-based hybrids are better, since GM mustard has not been tested against any other hybrids.
* While yield is not the only thing that determines farmers net profitability, even on the yield front, to ask specifically for GM hybrids appears that these organisations are a front for someone else, given that the higher yields that they are looking for, after can be obtained through other hybrids as well as other means.
* It is important to note that the production and productivity can be addressed by addressing anti-farmer trade policies that are pricing out Indian farmers and not incentivising them towards oilseeds cultivation.
* In risky technologies which involve multiple stakeholders including consumers, beekeepers, honey exporters, ayurveda practitioners etc., the decision cannot be left to only one stakeholder to decide. This is the reason why regulation and policy in favour of sustainability and safety is needed in the first instance.