Highlights growing scientific evidence on adverse impacts of GM crops
The speakers pointed out to studies that show that scientists with relationship with industry are more significantly associated with data withholding than others, in genetics and other life sciences. Research also shows that existence of financial and professional conflict of interest was associated to study outcomes that cast genetically modified products in a favorable light. Another study which looked at risk assessment studies found that such research is still limited, especially in particular crops; this study found an equilibrium in the number of research groups suggesting on the basis of their studies that a number of varieties of GM products to be as safe and nutritious as the respective conventional non-GM plant, and those raising still serious concerns. It also noted that most of these studies have been conducted by biotechnology companies responsible for commercializing these GM plants. “All of this illustrates the lack of independent scientific research to the extent needed, in addition to lack of scientific consensus. Without addressing these issues, there is no urgent need to rush into GM crop open air releases”, Prof Abrol said.
The press conference also saw the release of the 2nd edition of the compilation of scientific references and abstracts of more than 400 peer reviewed papers on various adverse impacts of GM crops/foods published across the world2. The compilation also has brief commentarieswritten by eminent leading scientists like Dr M. S Swaminathan, Dr Pushpa Bhargava and Prof Madhav Gadgil, considered as doyens of agriculture science, molecular biology and ecology respectively, in India. Releasing the compilation, Kavitha Kuruganti, Coalition for a GM-Free India, stated that “There is no dearth of scientific evidence on the adverse impacts of GMOs in our food, farming and environment; what is needed is the eyes to see it, the wisdom to understand it and the conscience to accept it”. She further stated that “GM crops are one of the biggest scientific frauds that Biotech seed Industry, ably supported by some of our unscrupulous policy makers and public sector scientists, are pulling off on our country”.
In another development on the biosafety research front, researchers from the Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, have confirmed the carcinogenic potential of Roundup herbicide using human skin cells exposed to extremely low concentrations of the world’slargest selling herbicide, used along with GM herbicide tolerant crops3. The study gains a lot of significance at a time when there are efforts from the Biotech Industry to release Herbicide Tolerant (HT) GM crops that will substantially increase the usage of herbicides like Roundup. The Final TEC report by the five independent members had strongly recommended against the release of any HT GM crops in India due to various such concerns.
The speakers urged the Prime Minister to be responsive to science and responsible to society when deciding on such risky technologies like GM crops which pose a threat to human health, biodiversity and farm livelihoods. They demanded that the Government of India stay clear of any vested interests and accept the recommendations of the TEC Final report as it is based on sound science, principles of sustainability and intergenerational justice. This, they said, would help in ensuring the speedy delivery of justice in the PIL on the issue of GM crops . Notes to the editor:
- The letter from Indian scientists to the Prime Minister on the issue of GM crops and their regualtion can be accessed athttp://indiagminfo.org/?p=654
- The 2nd edition of the compilation of scientific references and abstracts on various adverse impacts of GM crops/foods is available at http://indiagminfo.org/?p=657
- The study from Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, Lucknow, can be accessed at http://www.hindawi.com/isrn/dermatology/2013/825180/
Contacts: Dr Tushar Chakraborty, Indian Institute of Chemical Biology and member, State Biotechnology Council of West Bengal, Mob: 09831746294 , email: firstname.lastname@example.org Prof Dinesh Abrol, Institute of Studies in Industrial Development, New delhi, Mob: 09868242691,email: email@example.com Kavitha Kuruganti, Coalition for a GM Free India, Mob: 09393001550 email: firstname.lastname@example.org Rajesh Krishnan, Co Convenor, Coalition for a GM Free India, Mob: 09845650032 email: email@example.com