Hamara Beej

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Stop GM corn trials at PAU, says mission

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, October 7
The Kheti Virasat Mission, an NGO engaged in environment protection, has urged Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to order the immediate termination of genetically modified (GM) corn trials at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.
In an open letter to the Chief Minister, the organisation has raised serious concern over allowing the seed giant, Monsanto, to use PAU facilities for the trials. Incidentally, the letter is signed by 10 eminent persons, including Dr L.S. Chawla, former Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid Medical University, Dr Daljeet Singh, eye surgeon, and Dr Sucha Singh, economist.
Based on a permission letter issued by the Department of Biotechnology for an open-air trial of Monsanto’s transgenic corn hybrid (HiShell and 900M Gold containing MON 89034 event and NK603 event), PAU has gone ahead with the GM corn trials.
The open letter says that genetic engineering or genetic modification is a technology that involves the insertion of foreign genes, most often, into agricultural crops so that new traits that do not exist in the crop before can be obtained. However, given that many changes are brought about at the molecular level due to such forcible insertion of genetic material from elsewhere, the results are unpredictable and hazardous.
Several independent researches the world over indicate that herbicide-resistant crops will intensify and increase dependence on herbicide use in agriculture rather than lead to any significant reductions. A variety of herbicides will have to be reintroduced to control glyphosate-resistant volunteers, feral populations of crops and resistant weeds.
Further, an increase in the use of chemicals in farming is not desirable from a health and environment perspective.
It is not clear whether the state administration is aware of the trials, as laid down by the Environment Protection Act’s 1989 Rules. The state Biotechnology Coordination Committee is apparently not functional, says the letter.

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