Scientists gathered in New Delhi to discuss the need for the Indian government to ban GMO trials in their country. The gathering was a media briefing organized by Aruna Rodrigues, “the lead petitioner in a public interest litigation” seeking the ban.
As we reported last month, the proposed ban, backed by a committee appointed by the India Supreme Court, would ban GMO field trials for 10 years, at the very minimum, postponing the damaging environmental and health hazards of the seeds and GMO foods.
India is (rightfully) concerned that the GMO field trials of Monsanto could lead to significant contamination of other farms in the country, contamination which could be the undoing of many otherwise-sustainable farms.
“What we really need is a shift in paradigm, where a holistic approach drives our interventions in agriculture without reductionist solutions hogging the center-stage and taking away precious resources,” said Professor Hans Herren, Co-Chair of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science, and Technology for Development (IAASTD), winner of the 1995 World Food Prize.
These top scientists gathered to mark their support for the measure that could offer just one more significant blow to the seed-giant.
Conventional crops aren’t only safer than GM crops; they are more productive. And any step closer to instituting GMO seeds in India or elsewhere is a step away from farm productivity and sustainable agriculture.
“Only two countries in the world, both in South America, grow GM on more than 40% of their agricultural land and both are suffering from an increased food insecurity,” pointed out Professor Jack Heinemann from the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Canterbury. “Most of their poor neighbors that have not adopted GM have improving food security statistics.”
This isn’t the only problem—farmers who are forced to use the GM seeds pay higher prices and take greater risks. This is seen in the shocking suicide rates among farmers who have moved to GM crops, a frightening occurrence. In 2009, for instance, about one Indian farmer killed himself every 30 minutes.
With the risks of GM crops at undeniable levels, countries across the world are leading the way in stopping Monsanto in its tracks. One can only hope their fervor will continue to spread.