The Supreme Court of India has been advised by an expert panel of scientists to instigate a ten year moratorium of GE crop field trials, after a damning report on the lack of sound science and serious conflicts of interest in regulation of GMOs.(1)
But no action has yet been taken on the report from the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) because of lobbying by corporate GE-activists including Monsanto under its membership of the Association of Biotech-led Enterprises.(2)
The Supreme Court has agreed to listen to further stakeholder submissions. The hearings due in the next few days will set independent scientists against industry-funded scientists, echoing recent conflicts when industry scientists attacked other scientists for publishing data showing tumours in animals fed GM crops and RoundUp.(3)
While earlier inquiries and debates have been discounted by GE-proponents as 'political', or 'emotional', or 'non-scientific', the TEC consists only of scientists, including scientists from the government as its representatives. Further, 22 of the 31 submissions studied by the TEC in their nearly 4-month-long inquiry/study were from people with scientific background.
The outcome of the Supreme Court deliberations will reveal the extent to which the influence of vested interests can undermine the national interest and subvert science itself.
“The Supreme Court of India is not to be bullied by lobbyists from the biotech industry which is self-serving and has a history of scientific deception. The subversion of sound science goes back to industry promotion of GM food as substantially equivalent to conventional food,” says Jon Carapiet, spokesman for GE-Free NZ in food and environment.(4)
The Interim Report in October by the 5-member Technical Expert Committee appointed by the Supreme Court of India, unanimously presented its view that all field trials should be stopped in India until:
· biosafety tests are conducted before any field trial, including sub-chronic toxicity in small animals
· qualified scientists fully evaluate biosafety data of previous and new GM crops
· serious conflicts of interest at the regulators are addressed, and specific sites and monitoring of trials are established
The conflicts of interest identified by the TEC in India also exist around the world.
In New Zealand there is serious concern of conflicts of interest because of financial interests in commercial GMOs amongst the government's own senior scientific advisors and funding committees.
India's newly appointed Science and Technology Minister, S Jaipal Reddy warned that the science was not clear on the issue of GM crops and it should not be treated as an ideological issue.
“Scientific consensus has not finally emerged. Debate is on at a global level. Science is not clear yet,” he said.(5)
Media contact: Jon Carapiet - National Spokesman - 0210507681