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GMOs, Monsanto, and the Galileo Syndrome

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page and our Millions Against Monsanto page.

"Prakash Javadekar said: 'Galileo was telling the truth and he was punished.' Monsanto and its lobbyists are today's Church. And independent scientists speaking the truth about GMOs and their impact on society, health and environment are today's Galileos."

Speaking at the launch of the fifth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute, Union minister of state for environment Prakash Javadekar said: "We have not said no to science. Nobody can say no to science.

Yes we have to take proper caution, we have to take proper action. But you cannot deny it. We are not living in Galileo's times. Galileo was telling the truth and he was punished."

With genetically modified organisms, we could be having another Galileo moment. American biotechnology corporation Monsanto and its lobbyists are today's Church. And independent scientists speaking the truth about GMOs and their impact on society, health and environment are today's Galileos. GMOs are mired in controversy because their introduction is based on violation of law, democracy and science.

In India, the debate on GMOs started with the illegal introduction of Bt cotton by American biotechnology corporation Monsanto in 1998. It intensified when Monsanto/Mahyco tried to introduce Bt brinjal in 2010. And when the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh tried to introduced a moratorium, he was removed.

The debate returned when Jayanthi Natarajan was removed as environment minister in December 2013 because she refused to sign on the dotted line with the agriculture minister Sharad Pawar to allow GMO field trials in a joint affidavit to the Supreme Court in the GMO case.

M. Veerappa Moily succeeded her. Mr Moily rushed through approvals just before the term of United Progressive Alliance-2 was nearing its end. Under the new National Democratic Alliance government, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) approved further trials on July 18.

This was contrary to what the Bharatiya Janata Party had stated in its manifesto released on April 7, 2014: "GM foods will not be allowed without full scientific evaluation on the long-term effects on soil, production and biological impact on consumers."