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Suman Sahai, founder, Gene Campaign talks about why the GM technology is outdated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

India’s biggest walkathon-for-a-cause keeps its date – online this time

Oxfam Trailwalker, arguably India`s biggest walkathon-for-a-cause challenge, has gone virtual this year, with participants completing the 100 km walk within or around the confines of their homes over a span of 10 days – from November 20 to November 29, complying with the social distancing rules.

How about flagging candidates with criminal past on ballot?

The concept of the ‘Rule of Law’ is the basic structure of our constitution. It becomes imperative to observe the rule of law in order to run the country according to the constitutional provisions. However, in reality, often politicians with criminal records get elected and even become part of

Advocating for Cities Where the Poor and Women Count

The Citymakers: How Women Are Building a Sustainable Future for Urban India, published by Hachette India this month, narrates the genesis and journey of the Mahila Housing SEWA Trust (MHT), set up in 1994 to respond to t

‘Media worst affected with massive job losses’

Coming down heavily on the government for economic de-growth and job losses, Congress national spokesperson Supriya Shrinate has said that even before the Covid pandemic struck, the economy  had been falling down for eight consecutive quarters. The former journalist said that while the

Covid-19: Maintain caution, say new MHA Guidelines

The ministry of home affairs (MHA) on Wednesday issued an ‘Order with Guidelines for Surveillance, Containment and Caution’, effective for the month of December, noting that “to fully overcome the pandemic, there is need to maintain caution and to strictly follow the prescribed containmen

Lakshmi Vilas Bank to be amalgamated with DBS Bank India

The scheme of amalgamation of Lakshmi Vilas Bank Limited (LVB) with DBS Bank India Limited (DBIL) has been approved by the union cabinet on Wednesday. On November 17, to protect depositors’ interest and in the interest of financial and banking stability, on RBI’s application und

Archives

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter