‘state should stop trials on gm potato’

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Old 26-Feb-2011
‘state should stop trials on gm potato’

Jalandhar February 26:

India is rushing in where advanced countries like the European Union, treaded with caution, to allow trials of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), foods as well as “non -food crops” on their soil.

Scientifically, the existing GM processes are at best unpredictable and the resultant new species cannot be recalled even if detected to be harmful at a later stage. DDT and Edosulphan, both agrochemicals, had to be recalled globally years after they were launched in light of their toxicity and harmful effect on the food chain and environment.

Even though the din over the bt brinjal trials conducted last year is yet to die down, Potato trials are underway in Punjab. This is primarily due to the absence of a GMO regulatory and liability mechanism in place to check such experiments in the country. This and other shocking facts came to light during a meet to stop field trials of GM potato at the Jalandhar station of the Central Potato Research Station (CPRI) by various kisan outfits and social activists here today.

Executive director of the Kheti Virasat Misson (KVM), Umendra Dutt, alleged that the trials were not only illegal but in violation of the Environment Protection Rules, 1989, and should be stopped immediately. Incidentally, Jalandhar happens to be the potato belt of the state and the government is wasting taxpayer’s money on genetically modifying the Kufri Chipsona 1 variety for reducing discolouration in stored potatoes for processing purposes. This will only profit the processing industry while promoting unhealthy foods among our poor populace, he pointed out.

Director principal of the Adesh Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, GPI Singh, said based on existing knowledge and clinical experience worldwide, the health effects of bt toxins and GMOs include initiation of cancers, damage to fertility and reproductive heath, multi organ failure (to liver, kidneys), accelerated ageing, anti-biotic resistance in human/ animal gut bacteria and large scale deaths of animals who fed on bt/ GM crop fields. Not only this, it bodes ill for us and our environment when no credible and independent testing facilities required under the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) are in place in our country.

Ironically, we are allowing such trials here when all European countries have restricted GMOs based on their adverse effect on human health, biodiversity and protection of native gene pool. The American Academy of Environmental medicine has asked people to avoid GM foods while urging their government to put a moratorium on such GMOs, he revealed.

The worst fallout of GMOs in India will be on the National Tuberculosis Control Programme since kenamycin resistant gene has been detected in the gut bacteria in GM feeding trials. Kenamycin is used to treat TB patients not only in our country but the world, he pointed out. Others who spoke on the occasion included General Secretary BKU (Ekta- Ugrahan) SS Kokri Kalan, Kirti Kisan Union H S Sandhu, and secretary KVM Kultar Singh.

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