Devinder Sharma, food security expert and leader of the Forum for Biotechnologyand Food Security. “Right now we are opposing a plan to introduce GM bananasfrom Australia.”Sharma told IPS that if the BRAI bill becomes law such awareness campaigns willattract stiff penalties. The bill provides for jail terms and fines for “whoever,without any evidence or scientific record misleads the public about the safety of organisms and products…”Suman Sahai, who leads ‘Gene Campaign’, an organization dedicated to theconservation of genetic resources and indigenous knowledge, told IPS that “thisdraconian bill has been introduced in parliament without taking intoaccount
constantly streaming in from
posed by GM food crops.”She said that Indian activists are now studying a
published in thepeer-reviewed Organic Systems Journal by Judy Carmen at Flinders University inAdelaide, Australia, showing evidence that pigs fed on GM corn and soy are likelyto develop severe stomach inflammation.“The new bill is not about regulation, but the promotion of the interests of foodgiants trying to introduce risky technologies into India, ignoring the rights of farmers and consumers,” Sahai said. “It is alarming because it givesadministrators the power to quell opposition to GM technology and criminalisethose who speak up against it.”The past month has seen stiff opposition to plans to introduce GM bananas intoIndia by a group of leading NGOs that includes the
, Guild of Services,
, Save HoneyBees Campaign,
and Gene Ethics in Australia.These groups are seeking cancellation of a deal between the QueenslandUniversity of Technology (QUT) and India’s biotechnology department to growGM bananas here.Vandana Shiva, who leads the biodiversity conservation organisation Navdanya,and is among India’s top campaigners against GM crops, told IPS that such foodcrop experiments pose a “direct threat to India’s biodiversity, seed sovereignty,indigenous knowledge and public health by gradually replacing diverse cropvarieties with a few patented monocultures.”She fears that an attempt is being made to control the cultivation of bananas inIndia through patents by “powerful men in distant places, who are totally ignorantof the biodiversity in our fields.”India produces and consumes 30 million tonnes of bananas annually, followed byUganda which produces 12 million tonnes and consumes the fruit as a staple.