November 23, 2013

Indian Scientists Against GMOs


A few weeks ago I wrote about the statement issued by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) proving, contrary to the lies of GMO propaganda, that there is no consensus among scientists on the alleged safety of GMOs. The statement gives a brief overview of the massive amount of contrary evidence which has been assembled by independent scientists, usually working against serious institutional barriers, as well as how the industry’s own rigged tests have still found evidence of toxicity. To date the statement has been signed by over 230 scientists.
Now there’s a similar statement issuing from India. Over 250 Indian scientists have signed a statement calling upon the government to accept the recommendations of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Indian supreme court to advise it on GMO-related matters. The five scientists on this committee issued its final report this past summer. (A sixth appointee from industry, belatedly added to express the Monsanto point of view, abstained from the report.) They recommended:
*That no GMO be approved unless a need for it is demonstrated. They were skeptical that there is any such need.
*A moratorium on new field trials or commercializations on account of the danger of contamination, until much better protocols have been devised.
*In particular, there must be no approval of GM varieties of crops for which India is a center of biodiversity, such as brinjal (eggplant).
*That Bt food crops not be approved until thorough safety testing is done.
*Herbicide tolerant crops are environmentally and socioeconomically inappropriate for India and should never be approved.
*The report echoed the findings of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, issued in August 2012, that India’s regulatory system is chaotic and full of conflicts of interest. (That the government was able to pressure the court to add a sixth, pro-Monsanto appointee to the five independent scientists the court originally appointed, is a perfect example of the kind of practice the report deplores.) It recommended the moratorium as also necessary until conflicts of interest are purged from the system.
This statement of over 250 scientists endorses the TEC report, elaborates upon its reasoning, and calls upon the government to implement its recommendations.
For citizens, the report and this statement are good sources for the most up-to-date evidence on the proven harms and potential hazards of GMOs, and provide a good overview of what kind of policy is needed, from a reform point of view.
But all the talk of moratoria really implies that nothing short of total abolition will suffice, since the evidence “for” GMO safety will never be found, and the safe protocols for open-air releases are impossible to devise. The fact that cartel and governments refuse to perform the necessary tests and refuse to even try to devise the protocols is an admission on their part that the tests will only further confirm the evidence of toxicity and carcinogenicity, and that GMO contamination of non-GM crops and wild relatives is inevitable wherever GMOs are allowed into the environment, no matter how “strict” the protocols.
As with every honest assessment (and as implicitly from every failure to assess on the part of the system), the TEC report confirms that the total abolition of GMOs is the necessary goal.


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