New Delhi, Oct 19 (IANS) Farmers from 16 states in a signed petition to Prime Minster Narendra Modi have urged him to commercialise the Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard in dry areas, claiming that it would give direct benefit of Rs 1,800 crore to them.
Rashtriya Progressive Kisan Association (RPKA), an umbrella consortium of seven farmers' unions, submitted the petition at the Prie Minister's Office with signatures from about 1,38,000 farmers.
Favouring to roll out the GM Mustard in India's arid and semi-arid regions, farmers also criticised the anti-GM lobby, asserting "it's claims are unscientific".
"No one is listening to the 80 million farmers who will, among many others, benefit by the GM Mustard. It would profit the mustard growers by directly Rs 1,800 crore," Hari Singh Yadav, a Rajasthan-based farmer who heads RPAK, told IANS.
He said of total edible oil imported by India last year, about 60 per cent was mustard oil.
"That was supposed to be Indian farmers' share. That oil is too coming from a different version of GM Mustard," Yadav said, adding that due to water scarcity in Rajasthan and other parched regions, the production of mustard has dropped. The GM Mustard would boost the production by about 22-30 per cent.
The indigenously developed GM Mustard -- Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11 (DMH 11)-- is currently being reviewed by the Union Environment Ministry's Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). It was developed at Delhi University's Department of Genetics.
It's possible approval is being opposed by several social and environment activists who have cited several reasons ranging from environmental issues to the multi-national companies monopolising the GM seeds and thus taking over Indian agriculture.
Experts, including the developers of DMH 11, however, refuted those claims.