Environment minister Prakash Javadekar defends GM crops

Environment minister Prakash Javadekar today defended genetically modified (GM) crops saying there is no scientific evidence so far to show that GM crops are bad for health or environment.
                          
"GM crops, particularly GM corn, canola, soybean and cotton, are being cultivated and consumed by human beings as well as animals in many countries the world over as food, feed and processed products," he said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
 
"There is no scientific evidence to prove that GM crops would harm soil, human health and environment," he said.

The minister said the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee recently approved 12 GM crops - cotton, rice, castor, wheat, maize, groundnut, potato, sorghum, brinjal, mustard, sugarcane and chickpea - for experimental field trials for the purpose of generating bio-safety data.

"GM crops have beneficial traits such as insect resistance and herbicide tolerance, stress tolerance, fungal resistance, disease resistance, salt tolerance, drought tolerance, enhance yield and nutrition etc that may help in food security," Javadekar said.

He said in view of various concerns related to the safety, efficacy and agronomic performance of transgenic seeds, extensive evaluation and regulatory approval process takes place before any GM plant is approved for commercial cultivation.
 
The minister's statement came even as two RSS-linked outfits have sought a ban on field trials of genetically-modified crops, cleared by the GEAC.
 
Representatives of Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kissan Sangh had met Javadekar in July after the GEAC had cleared proposals for confined field trials of rice, brinjal, chickpea, mustard and cotton.

The Manch and Sangh members had told the minister that it is "not advisable" to allow GM crops without proper scientific evaluation about their probable long term impact on human health and soil.