India’s government has put genetically modified crop field trials on hold. Two grass root lead initiatives, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (Forum for National Awakening) and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (Indian Farmers Association), met with India’s environmental minister on Tuesday to reiterate opposition to GM trials.
The groups highlighted the potentially unknown effects on health and biodiversity as well as the consequences of placing the longer-term prospect of putting food production in the hands of a few multinational companies. “If a country’s food production becomes overly dependent on seeds and other inputs from a handful of such companies, will it not compromise its food security?” said the Manch group in a press statement.
The biotech industry has reacted with outrage to the news and have criticized the government’s decision as “anti-science, anti-domestic research recommendations which seem motivated to kill the biotechnology sector in India.” Stocks of Monsanto India slipped.
New crop trials have been placed on a moratorium since late 2012, after a supreme court-appointed expert panel recommended suspension for 10 years until regulatory and monitoring systems could be strengthened. The court is presiding over a public interest litigation against GM trials that is likely to be decided this year.