ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Peril of GMOs

In the recent debate on the introduction of genetically modified (GM) mustard in India, scientists and activists have rightly concentrated on the problems of the variety as well as the neglect of biosafety protocols. However, it is also necessary to look at the matter from the wider perspective of the unacceptably high health and ecological risks of GM crops. The political economy of food and agriculture is also significant in this context.

A report by an independent science panel (ISP), composed of eminent scientists, notes, “GM crops have failed to deliver the promised benefits… Transgenic contamination is now widely acknowledged to be unavoidable, and hence there can be no co-existence of GM and non-GM agriculture…. sufficient evidence has emerged to raise serious safety concerns, that if ignored could result in irreversible damage to health and the environment.” Another ISP document, The Case for a GMO-free Sustainable World, argues, “By far the most insidious dangers of genetic engineering are inherent to the process itself, which greatly enhances the scope and probability of horizontal gene transfer and recombination, the main route to creating viruses and bacteria that cause disease epidemics… Newer techniques, such as DNA shuffling, are allowing geneticists to create in a matter of minutes in the laboratory millions of recombinant viruses that have never existed in billions of years of evolution.”

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