GM tech is already obsolete: Suman Sahai of Gene Campaign

Suman Sahai, founder, Gene Campaign talks about why the GM technology is outdated

sakshi

Sakshi Kuchroo | November 16, 2016 | New Delhi


#Suman Sahai   #hybrid crop   #modified crop   #farmers   #cotton   #Bt brinjal   #GM Mustard   #Gene Campaign  
Suman Sahai, founder, Gene Campaign

Will the release of GE mustard reduce oilseed imports?

Saying that GE mustard will slash the oil import bill is just baloney. Farmers are not able to make money from the farm. You enable the farmer to make money from mustard or pulses or anything else, and you will have production. Look at the product honestly and evaluate it on the basis if this product is really going to make a positive difference. [Going by] the account of yield that Pental’s group is claiming, there is no yield.
 
According to the safety assessment report, the tests on GE mustard have been done by accredited labs in the country. The why do you doubt them?
Who is getting the tests done? I have friends in NIN [National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad]. They are a huge bunch of corrupt people. Why don’t you set up a board, send the sample – they should not know whose sample it is – and then carry out the tests? Try and remove all areas where corruption or influence has a role to play, or you make the complete data available for public where it is accessible. 
 
Activists argue DMH 11, like BT cotton, will go in the hands of multinationals and bring in their monopoly. Your comments?
That’s the whole other set of drama that is happening about a public sector institution. Monopoly happened at the time of BT cotton. But here the problem is not that. It is about setting up a strict regulatory and safety assessment framework. I am concerned about these NGO communities that go rampaging in protests, with half-truths and overstating the case. They do what exactly the industry does, but there are also very sober and reflective people in society who are working; there are people who are trained as scientists and know what they are talking about. We have to put the system in place before we start introducing GMOs in the market. Now, seed cost might be a problem. In case of BT cotton, the first ever study on its performance was done by our organisation, Gene Campaign. Since it was performing really well, they shot up the prices dramatically.  Any technology which is expensive will add to the farmers’ woes.

Read our story on GM Mustard: GM Mustard is ready. But are we? 
 
Pental says protesters have not done their homework. Your take?
This is the most absurd thing to say. Tomorrow if any common man wants to read and understand and discuss with scientists, they will be equally competent. I and 25 other people are already informed that there is no law on liability or labelling. The unfortunate thing is that we don’t have strong consumer groups in this country. Saying we lack knowledge is brainlessness.
 
How do farmers feel about GM crops?
We did a ‘knowledge attitude and perception study’ on our Gene Campaign website. Firstly, farmers are willing to try everything because they are curious. If you tell them that here is your seed, it will increase your production, the farmer per se has no reason to think you are a liar. That’s why companies dupe farmers. There’s a huge racket going on there. The companies never give bills to the farmers because then they can be traced back. So farmers buy seeds in good faith and thus suffer damage and failures. I think that farmers have to be spoken to honestly, like we as consumers are to be spoken to honestly. A farmer is only concerned with the seed that will give him higher production.
 
Don’t you feel that population growth makes GM crops imperative?
GM technology is already obsolete. There are many other things in the pipeline, for example, marker reading selection. You can select favourable genes by locating markers and you can breed with that. You now have the ‘crisper’ which makes gene editing much more precise. So, the days of genetic modification or engineering are over. One cannot hang on to the tales of the multinationals. We need to see things from the Indian context. Monsanto never had the patent, yet they milked every public and private sector institution, but that’s how they make fool of you.

(The interview appears in November 16-30, 2016 edition of Governance Now)

 

Comments

 

Other News

Stories you must read over the weekend

Joseph A Cannataci is the UN’s first and current special rapporteur for the right to privacy appointed by the Human Rights Council (HRC) in July 2015. His appointment came with growing global concerns about threats to privacy in the digital age where governments and big corporations collect mass da

When Jaitley sparred with Chidambaram

This is what Arun Jaitley had to say:   We want to take action which may either want to have an assault on what is the shadow economy or the parallel economy itself. Let us take this example of what everybody has commented on Section 132. Section 132, in simple,

One country, one tax from July 1

 After an intense seven-hour-long debate in the Lok Sabha, the cabinet gave a nod to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill. A green signal has also been given to the four crucial supplementary bills; Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) Bill, Integrated GST (IGST) Bill, Compensation GST (compensation

Indian team’s internet access to villages gets global recognition

 A successful effort to take high speed internet to over six lakh Indian villages by an IIT Bombay team failed to get support from the government. But, the same indigenous television white space technology developed by the team has now won Mozilla Corporation’s ‘equal rating innovation cha

DJB unveils Yamuna river project

Delhi Jal Board, in collaboration with University of Virginia on Thursday unveiled the Yamuna River Project with a symposium cum exhibition as a part of the overall effort to map out an expansive, multidisciplinary prescription to clean Yamuna. The discussion opened on the lines of eradicati

UJALA scheme: Over 22 crore LED bulbs distributed

  Over 22 crore LED bulbs have been distributed by Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) under UJALA scheme, union minister Piyush Goyal informed the Lok Sabha.   The minister said that the National LED programme, called Unnat Jyoti by Affordable LEDs for

Video

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter