The Church of South India has expressed significant concern over a government recommendation that genetically modified mustard be made commercially available. The Department of Ecological Concerns of the CSI Synod said it was “anguished” to learn from the media that the Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (through its Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee) had recommended the commercial release of genetically modified mustard.
In a statement, the CSI cited an extensive list of objections, including fears that the proposed GM mustard would be resistant to herbicide: “Herbicide tolerance trait has been problematic the world over due to its negative impact on ecology, creation of unmanageable super weeds and deleterious impact on rural health. In the Indian context this will also affect rural livelihoods.”
The CSI also raised fears over what it said would be the impact on bees and the honey trade: “Mustard is a major forage crop for honey bees. Honey from GM crop fields will be rejected by consumers, both within and outside the country, thereby devastating the honey trade. In addition, honey bees are adversely impacted by GM crops, which may not only decrease the honey production but also crop yields in mustard and other crops.”
In addition, the CSI accused the government of “irrational haste” in introducing GM crops: “What is beyond comprehension is that when the world itself is debating over the GM issues, and many countries who introduced them are banning it progressively, why is this tearing hurry to introduce the same technology in India - without making a proper impact study?”