Though in February 2010, Govt had announced an indefinite moratorium on commercialisation of Bt brinjal. Brinjal is the first GM food crop in India. The moratorium officially lasts till independent scientific studies establish the safety of Bt brinjal from the point of view of its long-term impact on human health and environment.
Despite that some large and greedy landlords continue profiteering by planting Bt brinjal from black market to manufacture non-organic and genetically modified brinjals for economies of scale, paying handsome tributes to Govt officials. “A failure of concerned government agencies that illegal Bt brinjal is being cultivated in the country. The regulatory body Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) behaves more like a promotional body than a regulator. Bt cotton was approved in India after large-scale illegal cultivation was discovered in Gujarat. The regulators turned a blind eye to illegal herbicide tolerant cotton cultivation thereafter, while it spread to lakhs of hectares,” as per reports from Gujarat.
Recently, few creamy farmers (as bhakts of MNC seed exporters) had gathered to illegally plant government-banned genetically modified (GM) seeds, saying that could improve their livelihoods and help reduce pesticide use, symbolically planted pest-resistant Bt brinjal (eggplant) and herbicide-tolerant cotton seeds in defiance of government regulations, according to reports. They had discovered that farmers in Haryana have been planting Bt brinjal, despite a government moratorium on GM brinjal that was imposed in 2010 at the behest of anti-GMO groups.
The farmers who were growing Bt brinjal illegally in Haryana have now had their crops destroyed by the authorities. Farmers demanded that government compensate the farmers in Haryana whose crops have been destroyed, and vowed that in solidarity, the participants are raising money to aid all those who may be similarly affected.
Earlier, anti-GMO activists had demanded that police should attend the rally and arrest the protesting farmers. Coalition for GM-free India said that any such action will constitute criminal breach of the GMO bio-safety law and will be confronted with police action / fines / arrest as appropriate. As per reports, police did arrive but left without making any arrests, and the GM seeds were planted without hindrance as the chanting farmers looked on.
Many Indian farmers point to neighboring Bangladesh, where farmers have adopted corporate Bt brinjal, enabling them to slash their use of pesticides. A dozen GM crops like maize, soya, cotton have been planted across the world, and millions of people and livestock have been eating these for the past two decades. So some farmers claim there is no evidence of any adverse health impact on either humans or animals.
Until some eaters are affected, the bucks game of GM food poisoning will keep changing goal posts.