AIKS supports GM mustard and wants hybrid seeds to be thoroughly tested.
Even though groups like the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, which are backed by the RSS, were against the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s (GEAC) decision to allow commercial cultivation of genetically modified mustard, the left-leaning farmers’ group All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) was happy about it.
AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah, on the other hand, said that the government and public sector should keep control of the technology and that the Indian Council of Agriculture Research should test the hybrid seed in depth (ICAR).
Mr. Mollah told The Hindu that his group is not against GM crops. He was speaking at an event where the logo for AIKS’s national conference, which will be held in Thrissur in December, was being unveiled. ‘We are not against science. We need to use technology to make more things. India has a very large population, so we need to make more. This must be done with technology. The problem we have is different. If the corporate houses give them the technology, the products are made to meet their needs. He said It will cause trouble.’
Mr. Mollah also said that the AIKS wants public laboratories to test the hybrid seeds in depth to find out how they affect the soil, other plants, animals, and people. ‘Now, the ICAR is going to test the hybrid seed. It does research for the government. People can’t be fooled by them. The test results will have to be given to the people in person. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, we don’t mind. If the tests show that hybrid seeds are safe and help increase crop yields, then the government should let them be grown,’ Mr. Mollah said.
He said that farmers have asked for BT cotton varieties that are resistant to pests. ‘The government needs to figure out what went wrong and make it right. Production has gone up because of BT cotton. But the government needs to do something about the farmers’ complaints about pests, he said.
Industries have also, for the most part, been happy with the decision about BT mustard. According to Pankaj Dwivedi, Head of Agronomy at a new company called nurture.farm, growing GM cotton has helped India become the second-largest cotton producer in the world. ‘In the same way, we need to figure out how GM mustard will increase production at home and make us less reliant on imports.
As India’s agricultural land shrinks because of rapid urbanization and weather changes that make it hard to grow staple foods like rice and wheat, many scientists and agricultural experts have called for GM crops to be approved more quickly. Mr. Dwivedi said that GM crops shouldn’t be given to the public until scientists have carefully looked at their benefits and safety.