New Delhi: A group of 101 farmer organisations and activists from across India have slammed the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), India’s apex body for approving trials and commercialization of genetically engineered crops, for working in secrecy and opacity.

The group has written to environment minister Prakash Javadekar asking him to stop any approval process for commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) mustard in the country.

For instance, the Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) from mustard growing belts of Gujarat, which together represent around 100,000 farmers and business worth 400 crores, have written to GEAC stating that there is no special demand for GM food in the market whereas non-GM food is preferred by consumers and bringing in GM mustard will jeopardise their trade.

Representatives of Sarson Satyagraha, a broad alliance spearheading the resistance, warned the government against any moves to approve GM mustard and said they will not allow the choices of farmers and consumers to be, “violated by the introduction of an unneeded, unwanted, unsafe, irreversible and uncontrollable technology".

“We hope that the land acquisition ordinance fiasco has taught the government some lessons in going against people’s interests. The same fate is in store if government pushes GM crops onto us despite evidence against the technology in terms of its safety and impacts on livelihoods. These risky technologies are not acceptable to farmers as well as consumers and the food security arguments around GMOs are untenable," said Kavitha Kuruganti of the coalition for a GM Free India, an alliance of around 400 groups spanning 23 States across the country.