Indian Mustard shall be protected from the onslaught of GM mustard: Citizens across India

“Safe Food Week” being marked all over the country this week

GM Mustard

Delhi, February 9th 2023: National Safe Food Day was marked widely all over the country today, on the day when Bt brinjal was placed under an indefinite moratorium in 2010. Citizens were seeking to remind Government of India about this pro-people, pro-nature decision that was taken by the then Government, to highlight their concerns with regard to GM mustard approved in India.

Various events were organised today all over the country to showcase the goodness of 6000-year-old Indian mustard, and the serious hazards of GM mustard. “We would like Government of India to be responsive to society and responsible to science, like it did in the case of Bt brinjal, in 2010. Herbicide tolerant GM mustard is a fitter case for the precautionary principle to be applied. We want the approval given to GM mustard withdrawn”, said Sarson Satyagraha, the organising citizens’ platform of this coordinated day of action.

A Basant Utsav in Dilli Haat celebrated mustard in our everyday lives, highlighting the deep connection between mustard and our culture. A small sample of the rich mustard diversity in India was on display for public education here. Songs, plays, poetry, magic show and a signature campaign were part of the Basant Utsav called “Phool Rahi Sarson”.

In the national capital, a small delegation of citizens including mustard growing farmers left a gift for the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change in his office with various organic mustard products. The message to the Minister was simple and strong: “This is your last chance too, to consume and enjoy non-toxic mustard, if you don’t step stop GM mustard”.

A similar gifting was done in Bangalore to the Principal Secretary Agriculture with the same message.

In dozens of locations across Tamil Nadu, farmers’ groups submitted memoranda to District Collectors, expressing their rejection of this toxic mustard. In many locations in Kerala, candle light vigils will be organised later today by citizens, against GM crops and foods including GM mustard. In Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, rallies and round table meetings marked the day. A scientific conference was organised with the participation of numerous experts in Telangana. Kolkata saw a poster-drawing activity and citizens’ rally. A rally was organised in Ranchi too. In Rajasthan, the largest mustard-growing state of India, a press conference was organised by BKS which warned 11 state governments against moving forward on GM mustard trials and commercialisation. Odisha witnessed village-level awareness events. In Madhya Pradesh too, memoranda were given to authorities, addressed to the Prime Minister and state Chief Minister. In several places, there were poster exhibitions, and display of mustard cuisine from different regions of India. In Haryana, an awareness meeting was followed by a rally by citizens in Rohtak. A delegation submitted a memorandum to the authorities against GM mustard approval, and demanded the withdrawal of the environmental release approval.

Events are being planned over the weekend too in different parts of the country, and pictures are being posted on social media with common hashtags of #NoGMMustardPoison #SafeFoodDay. The call for the coordinated day of action was put out by Sarson Satyagraha and India for Safe Food, which are broad-based platforms consisting of farmers’ organisations, consumer organisations, agricultural scientists and medical experts, ecologists and environmentalists, beekeepers and honey exporters and others.

The citizen groups asserted that GM mustard was unneeded and unsafe. Government of India is disingenuously presenting a herbicide tolerant mustard as only a hybridisation technology, ignoring the huge negative ramifications from a HT crop being cultivated in India. Further, it is clear that GM mustard is being promoted as a swadeshi GMO with a public interest purpose, only so that the floodgates for hundreds of other GMOs can be opened, while the claims of yields as well as safety of GM mustard remain unproven. Numerous violations of the existing limited regulatory regime have been the hallmark of GM mustard approval process. GM mustard is bound to contaminate our genetic diversity in mustard in irreversible ways. State governments are also resisting GM mustard. Meanwhile, farmers’ groups in Punjab welcomed media reports of the state government’s decision not to allow trials or commercial cultivation of GM mustard in the state.

For more information or photos, contact Kavitha Kuruganti at [email protected]

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