In conversation, Kavitha Kuruganti, an important anti-GM voice and one of the convenors of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA), an advocacy platform of more than 400 organisations drawn from 20 states of India
Prasanna Mohanty | January 24, 2013
On Lynas’ turnaround
There is nothing new, content wise. It is a huge PR exercise emerging from the (GM) industry as though Lynas’ change of heart is a game changer. That is not true at all. He was never an active GM crusader or made substantive contribution to the anti-GM debate or activism. He was mostly working in the field of climate change. He doesn’t deserve the space or attention he is getting.
If he is truly scientific and speaks based on facts, how can he call himself an environmentalist and ignore that GM crops increased chemical usage in American agriculture by 183 million kilos since the beginning of GM crop adoption there? While insect-resistant Bt crops actually allow for an insecticide to be produced inside the GM plant as long as the plant is alive (leading to more pesticide being used than before), herbicide-tolerant crops actually allow for more chemicals to be used, tolerated by the modified plant. Both ways, these are crops which are increasing pesticide usage.
How can he ignore the fact that farmers are resorting to deadlier herbicides due to the emergence of super-weeds in the USA and elsewhere? How can anyone advocate a one-size-fits-all solution in agriculture, that too in contexts like India, and still claim to be scientific?
On promoting GM crops in India
The transgenic technology in the field of food and farming involves environmental release of a yet-to-be-proven safe and imprecise technology. Further concern comes from the fact that this is a living technology – something that has the ability to propagate itself. Whatever the proponents may say about the established science of transgenic technology world over, there will not be so much rejection and controversy if the opponents didn’t have science on their side. And I myself have compiled more than 300 published papers showing adverse impacts of transgenic crops.
Additionally, there are issues relating to intellectual property rights with GM technology. In India we witnessed the scam about the public sector Bt cotton getting contaminated with Monsanto’s ‘event’ and it was subsequently withdrawn. There is also an issue of trade security with export consignments having gm getting rejected in a majority of countries.
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