The latest in the GM food saga: a correspondent sends news from Hyderabad about the discovery of imported American GE sweets confirmed by State Food Laboratory’s Ravindra, who states that “The sale of GE foods is prohibited under Section 22 of the Food Safety and Standards Act”.
Today the focus is on the role of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, who – like many others – are advocates of the swadeshi approach, described by Satish Kumar as a program for long term survival – read more here.
Subservience to the global market does not fit into the swadeshi approach. The market should be an instrument and not the master. The smaller the size of the market, the better it is as an instrument. The swadeshi approach is to limit the size of the market and not to eliminate the market as communism does. The swadeshi global view is “let a thousand markets bloom – and not merge into one global market”.
Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch told the Economic Times:
Monsanto’s announcement on scrapping plans for India on a next generation cotton seeds amid escalating tensions with the Modi government which have caused an upheaval in the seed industry. SJM is also campaigning to prevent any entry to GM mustard technology.
Mahajan said that the Supreme Court had given directions on GM crops and challenged the government to make all related documents public. “We have been asking the government, why not make all this data on GM mustard public? The claims of productivity increase are questionable. There are serious doubts about the socio-economic impact as well of this regardless of who is involved in this work — Delhi University or a MNC. Let there be complete transparency, let people decide. We are not dogmatic and opposed to it on principle. We have held meetings with GEAC also raising these questions and till date we have got no good answer”.
During a panel discussion organised by the National Seed Association of India on IPR issues on GM Traits and Seeds, the president of the Bharat Krishak Samaj, Krishna Bir Chaudhary at a panel discussion on seeds and IPR issue, denounced enterprises and individuals, “working against national interest” and “misleading the PM'” on this issue: “The government has done a commendable job. How much more personal interest will be put ahead of the country by some people who have sold their soul? These are people who are looting the Indian people and are sold out”.
October news: 2016-17 saw a steep decline in the planting if GM cotton, reports Sandip Das of the Financial Express. Cotton farmers in Punjab and Haryana turned to native varieties in the current season as these are less vulnerable to the deadly pest white fly and to the leaf-curl virus. As a senior agriculture ministry official said: “The decline in sowing (of Bt cotton) is because farmers wanted to guard against white-fly attack that had damaged the crop extensively in Haryana and Punjab last year.”