Genetically Modified(GM) Crops: Some Key Facts

There has been lot of controversy over GM crops in recent times. With the multinational corporations pushing use of GM crops worldwide especially in India, there have been lot of  arguments both for and against these crops.
Here are some key points in this regard:
-What are GMOs?
GMO stands for genetically modified organisms. They are organisms whose genetic material has been artificially modified in order to give it a new property. For example this could be to make it easier for a plant to resist a disease, insects or drought or to increase crop productivity.
India and GMOs
-In 1988 World Bank  compelled Indian government to change its Seed Policy as a part of deregulation process resulting in entry of global players like Monsanto entering India
-In 1995, Monsanto started process to introduce its Bt technology in India through a joint-venture with the Indian company Mahyco. These attempts were met with stiff opposition from several NGOs, ecologists, environmentalists and agriculture experts.
-Infact all four crucial  committees/task forces set up so far in India have opposed introduction of GM crops in India.The four reports are: The “Jairam Ramesh Report” of February 2010, imposing an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal, overturning the apex Regulator’s approval to commercialise it; the Sopory Committee Report (August 2012); the Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) Report on GM crops (August 2012); and now the TEC Final Report (June-July 2013).   –
-India’s parliamentary standing committee on Agriculture said following in its 2012 report about GM crops:
“ƒ On a cost benefit analysis, it is evident that the industryreceives more benefits than the farmers. Additionally,the decline in yield after the initial two/three years caused additional distress to the farmers. It was also found that Bt cotton is not a sustainable agriculture technology. Its cultivation requires massive quantities of water and other outputs.The cultivation of a cash crop such as Bt cotton also diverted land that would have otherwise been utilized for the cultivation of food crops. It was also found that many traditional varieties of cotton have been affected by the cultivation of Bt cotton. “
-An internal advisory by the agricultural ministry of India in January 2012 had this to say to the cotton-growing states in India — “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”
-Experts have been pointing out that  it can’t be merely coincidence that the highest acreage of GM crop Bt cotton is in Maharashtra and this is also where the highest farmer suicides are. According to Government of India data, nearly 75 per cent rural debt is due to purchase inputs. And in case of GM crops unlike traditional non-GM crops of India, farmers have to buy new seeds every time they want to sow increasing the cost of inputs significantly
– Companies like Monsanto have been accused of using “Terminator technology”. This is Monsanto’s patented technology to create sterile seeds which means that crops will not produce viable offspring seeds or will produce viable seeds with specific genes switched off. Thus a farmer has to go back to Monsanto to busy new seeds everytime they want to sow a crop.
– Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII)  is actually a front of the the global chemical and GMO industry—Bayer, Dow Agro, DuPont Pioneer, Mahyco, Monsanto and Syngenta—who come together to form this ‘federation’ and projected it as an industry organisation!
-Another such front for GMO industry is  Association of Biotechnology-Led Enterprises (ABLE), which tried to challenge India’s seed price control order issued under the Essential Commodities Act in the Karnataka high court. The case was dismissed.

World and GMOs
-More than half of the European countries have completely banned GM crops in their countries.
– One …needs to look at the results of the famous study by Gilles-Eric Seralini in which rats who drank amounts of Roundup that are legally allowed in our water supply noted a 200 to 300 percent increase in large tumors. In addition, those fed GM corn suffered severe damage to their organs, including their livers and kidneys. As many as half of the male rats and 70 percent of the female ones died prematurely after being fed Monsanto’s GM corn, NK603, which is found in many corn-based breakfast cereals, snack chips and tortillas.(http://www.neonnettle.com/news/1621-hungary-destroys-1000-s-of-acres-of-gmo-corn-feilds)

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