Why RSS up in arms against genetically modified (GM) crops?

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Bt cotton
Field trials of 15 genetically modified crop, widely known as GM crop may be delayed after Swadeshi Jagran Manch(SJM) and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh(BKS) raised serious objection about the feasibility of the whole process. The biotech regulator, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on July 18 had given its nod for field trails of number of GM crops including rice, mustard and cotton. Both, SJM and BKS are the two wings of RSS, BJP's parental organisation. A delegation of the organisation on Tuesday met Union Environment and Forests Minister Prakash Javadekar regarding the issue and expressed their concern about the long term impact of GM crops on human health and soil. Meanwhile, the Environment Minister has assured them that no decision will be taken in hurry. "We will not rush into it. We will hold consultations with the stakeholders before taking any decision", Javadekar said.

Here is the whole issue in detail.

What is the GM crop?
• That crop in which original genetic make-up is artificially changed through genetic engineering method is called GM crops.
• The purpose of the modification is to introduce new traits which were not available in original genetic set up.
• These crops are also known as transgenic crops.
• The new introduced traits help in providing resistance against certain diseases and other environmental conditions thereby increases productivity of particular crops.
• At present, Bt Cotton is the only GM crop which has been allowed to be grown commercially in India.

What is the take of anti-GM crop people?
• They believe that these crops might pose risks to the environment and human health.
• Rejects the perception that farmers will be largely be benefitted with the move.
• This group of people maintains that, it will encourage the monopoly of agri-biotech companies through seed marketing.
• Our own farmers have to cough up more money every year to buy fresh seeds as these patented GM one have a limited life span of one year only.

What pro-GM crop people are saying?
• These people have this opinion that such crops would rejuvenate agricultural productivity which will ultimately lead to food security.
• This group ourightly rejects the report that such crops have any adverse effect on human health and environment

What Supreme Court had said?
• The Supreme Court in its decision (April, 2014) had sought an answer from the Central Government on the same. The Court had asked from Centre, why there should not be an interim suspension of field trials of these GM crops as experts are largely going against it.
• The Court said, "We have reports of responsible persons who occupy responsible positions. Don't you think there should be an interim order (against open field trials) till we hear this case?"
• Earlier in July 2013, the SC appointed committee had recommended an indefinite halt on field trials of such crops till the government fixes regulatory and safety aspects regarding the issue.

What was UPA's stand?
• Erstwhile Government had maintained perplexing stand on the controversial issue during its tenure.
• While former Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan was against the GM crops, her successor M Veerappa Moily favoured the same.
• According to the DNA report, during Moily's tenure (2013-14), around 60 proposals of field trials for these GM crops were cleared by GEAC.

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