Roy said that they were in fact protesting against the minister's attempt to trivialise the issue of food security by asserting that the controversial GM technology would in fact offer security of food production. “The minister's support for GM food crops is highly controversial and there is an on-going international debate on this issue. We condemn the detention and demand immediate release of the peaceful protestors,” Roy demanded.
Earlier, in Parliament’s Monsoon Session of 2012, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture tabled their report on GM crops. One of the clear recommendations of the report was for the government to come up with a fresh road map to food security that does not adopt risky technologies like GM but addresses the shortcomings of storage, distribution and mismanagement of stocks. The premise that GM food crops are a panacea for food security is an argument made to serve the interests of the biotech sector.
Neha Saigal, campaigner, Greenpeace India said, “So far no single GM crop has been developed for increasing yields. GM crops have failed to show any increase in yield in nearly two decades of their existence. Instead of forcing risky GM food down our throats, Pawar needs to address the fact that millions of tonnes of grains in storage facilities across India consistently fail to reach the people. And as the environment minister, Natarajan must take an unequivocal stand on GM crops.”
Also echoing the voice of the Parliamentary Committee, more than 150 scientists from across the country have written to the Minister of Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan, expressing their displeasure at the Indian government for promoting GM crops as a way forward for food security.
Kavita Srivastava, convenor of the Right to Food campaign, said, “The issue of food security is broader than production. The problem lies in the lack of a political will for a universal distribution system. The UPA government must not be distracted by GM crops as a solution to food security, but focus on an inclusive food security bill.”
Greenpeace has urged the Natarajan, who is the decision maker on the environmental release of genetically modified organisms, to intervene so that the ministry of agriculture does not misdirect the debate on food security.
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