Over 124 farmer groups, scientists, senior lawyers and activist joined with Dr Vandana Shiva, Navdanya and Swadeshi Jagran Manch to organise a national All India People’s Assembly against GM Mustard. Altogether the various groups represented over 10 millions farmers, along with millions of other Indians.

The People’s Assembly was held at Constitution Club, New Delhi on September 30th 2016. Some of the key experts at the meeting were french molecular biology and world’s top scientist on GM biosafety- Dr Eric Seralini, environmental Dr Vandana Shiva, Nicolas Hulot, President of the Nicolas Hulot foundation, Senior scientist Dr Pushpa Bhargava, former and founding director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan,Aruna Rodriguez, lead petitioner in the GM case in the Indian Supreme Court, Dr Krishan Bir Chaudhary, President of Bhartiya Krishak Samaj.

The three hour meeting saw the coming together of Indian and international experts on GMOs to discuss key emerging issues related to GM Mustard- agronomical, socio-economic, biosafety and Health and IPRs. Under corporate pressure, the Indian government may very soon commercially release GM mustard, making it the first the food GM crop in India.

This decision threatens the livelihoods not only for millions of India’s farmers & seed breeders but the herbicide tolerant Mustard will have devastating effect on all Indians and Indian biodiversity.

“Today, India needs to also discriminate between real science and pseudo corporate driven propaganda. Only by embracing the Swadeshi philosophy and Vasudeva Kutumbhakam, Earth Family and can all people of the world free themselves of the toxic poison making corporations,” Dr Vandana Shiva said.

“Only by embracing the Earth family and the Swadeshi philosophy can any individual of the world be free of the corporate control on food and life,” she added.

All aspects of GM mustard ranging from health, agronomical, socio-economic and IPR were discussed in detail during the Assembly.

Scientist Dr. Puspha Bhargav stated that “There is diabolical attack on India with much larger implications than with GM mustard than Bt Brinjal. The biosafety report is unsigned, and it is impossible that GEAC can go through the entire document in eight hours. I have heard that Indian Prime Minister Modi has met Deepak Pental(Developer of India’s DHM-11) and emphasized GM mustard must be passed before this planting season. If GM mustard is passed, we shall no longer be a free country. Our entire country will be under control of foreign MNCs.”

While beekeepers, doctors and farmers are protesting all over the country, state governments such as Bihar have made strong statements condemning the decision to release GM mustard. The protest have increased since the Biosafety report of Indian GM Mustard came out earlier this September.

Commenting on the biosafety dossier Dr. Eric Seralini said, “ I am shocked that they are about to commercialize GM mustard and yet no one has asked the university for blood analysis or the feeding studies. GM crops and herbicides have long term health affects and three month study is not enough. I strongly urge the people of India to be scientific and ask for all data to be made public.”

Apart from the Biosafety and Health, the IPR issue was central to the GM Mustard debate, Delhi university Prof Deepak Pental claims to be developer of DMH-11 GM mustard, but Bayer owns the patent on the bar/basta /barnase gene system that was used in the development of the DMH-11.

“Deepak Pental should tell us who owns the patent on the bar/basta/barnase gene system? We know it is Bayer. We should stop this charade and demand all data on the patents be made public, claimed Dr. Vandana Shiva, Environmentalist.

Ashwani Mahajan, National Convenor for Swadeshi Jagran Manch said, “We stand to protect India and all her traditions especially those of her farmers, her villages. Swadeshi Jagran Manch has fought foreign imperialism and corporate propaganda and this meeting is a platform for all discussions on the key aspects of GM mustard and spread awareness among people of India about the real dangers of GM mustard. We know if GM Mustard is released, it will only profit Bayer (Bayer has just bought out Monsanto) and not India’s people, farmers or biodiversity.”

The verdict of the meeting was that Monsanto along with all other poison makers such as Bayer, DuPont, Dow, et al are guilty for their crimes against India and the world. After the assembly a declaration was released seeking ban on “all GM crops including GM mustard”, and raised question on the covert secrecy of procedure with GM mustard.

All the members found them guilt of the imposing a new imperialism on Indian food security and India and demanded for a complete boycott of Monsanto along with other toxic producing corporations.

People’s Assembly Declaration, New Delhi, 30 September 2016

On 30th September, 2016, Scientists, farmers organisations,civil society members and activists met for a People’s Assembly in New Delhi,India to discuss emerging issues and key challenges on GM Mustard. This is meeting was a call to action to oppose the unscientific claims of the GM Mustard biosafety report release. At the end of the People’s Assembly all the members groups of this united front for Swadeshi economic democracy and Earth Democracy signed this declaration

  1. The biosafety report issued by Government of India Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the propaganda of foreign GM MNCs and propagates theirs interests. This is trying to unscientific,irresponsible and undemocratically imposes GM Mustard on the poor Indian farmers.
  2. It is the decision of this meeting, to not accept the unscientific and incomplete GMO mustard biosafety report. The one month biosafety report viewing public viewing period, only serves the purpose of the GMO lobby and companies. For all these reasons we demand public and independent scientists should conduct independent studies making sure all aspects of food safety are tested, along with farmers rights’ over seeds are protected.
  3. This meeting concludes only with the conservation of biodiversity, environment and soil can humanity be survive and to do this we must not allow any patents on seeds. Thus, keeping our seeds free. Through GMO/ Bt seeds MNCs using their illegal patents have destroyed India’s seed sovereignty. This patent regime is making Indian farmers perpetually depended on seeds MNCs, while at the same time destroying the sovereignty and resilience of Indian agricultural and food systems. To converse India’s biodiversity, living beings, trees and India’s sovereignty we have to ensure that the seed is free and farmers ‘ rights are protected. We also demand all patents – used as prior art or patents technology used in development of GM mustard should be disclosed and kept in the public domain. We demand total disclosure and transparency.
  4. It is clear from this conference that agribusiness and biotech corporations together are spreading their false propaganda on “ClimateSmart agriculture” and claiming that their seeds and technology will counter the climate uncertainties and beneficial for the soil and agriculture. But this is not true, already GMO have been proven to increase diseases, disrupt the environment and further destroy the local biodiversity. The experience of Bt Cotton,which alone is responsible for the suicide of lakhs and lakhs of poor Indian farmers, has already shown us that GMOs are detrimental to the India and harmful for Indian farmers.
  5. It is the demand for this meeting, that any before any decision is taken on GM Mustard their should be multiple independent and governmental studies conducted by scientists. After evaluating the socio-economic, scientific and agronomical all documents should be placed in the public domain.
  6. This meeting would bring attention that the GMO mustard would negatively impact the agricultural productivity and severely impact allied sectors such as beekeepers, orchards, Ayurvedic medicine makers, practitioners and India at large because many countries don’t not allow import of GM foods in their countries.
  7. This meeting concludes that in the name ‘Free-trade’ the WTO is working to benefit the large MNCs and their IPRs regimes are responsible for stealing away rights of the our people. We oppose any such agreements and demand that us agreements should be annulled.
  8. We also demand that corporations that are guilty of the exploiting the Indian farmers and have repeatedly committed injustice against them should be made liable through legal inquiries and they should me made to compensate the farmers for their crimes.
  9. We demand that the foreign ‘Company Raj’ on Indian agriculture should end and the government should promote Swadeshi and traditional agriculture. The government should promote an agriculture that produces fertility seeds at reasonable prices, and where the farmers are never exploited and all biodiversity is respected.
  10. Swadeshi is our Indian dharma and duty. In accordance with this duty, we pledge to respect and conserve all members of our Vasu Deva Kutumbkham, Earth family.
  11. We pledge to keep India free of foreign poison makers(Monsanto,Bayer, DuPont,Dow,etc) and make Indian agriculture and society free of their poisons.

Also read:

Dr Vandana Shiva submits critique of GM Biosafety report

Press Release, 4 October 2016

GM Mustard in India? Five unanswered questions

By Prof. Gilles Eric Séralini and Chef Jérôme Douzelet, 5 October 2016

Opposers Might Move Supreme Court Against Release of GM Mustard for Cultivation

Smart Indian Agriculture, October 2016

Long-term impact of GM mustard on health not studied: Gilles-Éric Seralini

Interview with Molecular biologist and anti-GM Activist
Business Standard, 3 November 2016

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