New Delhi: The Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS affiliate, has accused the agriculture ministry of “misleading” Parliament on the toxicity of the herbicide glyphosate.
In a letter to Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, the Manch’s national co-convener Ashwani Mahajan has referred to the ministry’s reply to an unstarred question from Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Pratima Mondal on 9 July.
Mondal, the Manch has written, wanted to know if glyphosate causes cancer and if the government planned to regulate its use or ban it. The TMC MP also wanted to know if there are any alternatives to glyphosate and if the government was considering promoting these alternatives.
According to the Manch, the ministry in its reply said “glyphosate is a herbicide, which kills weeds and is registered for use in our country”. The reply also claimed that glyphosate has been reviewed by the World Health Organisation’s Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), which in 2016 concluded that glyphosate is unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.
“The response that was drafted by your officials and read out by you is incorrect and is meant to hide true facts around this deadly chemical called glyphosate,” Mahajan’s letter states, adding that the herbicide could cause cancer.
“Glyphosate has indeed been categorised as a probable human carcinogen (Group 2A) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO),” the letter adds.
‘Officials feeding you incorrect information’
Mahajan has further alleged that officials in the ministry are “feeding incorrect information” and urged the minister to identify them.
“It is also important that officials who are feeding incorrect information to you should be identified. We need to figure out at whose behest are they misleading you and thereby the entire Parliament,” the letter states.
“This is important given that legal battles in the USA are revealing very clearly how companies like Monsanto operate to hide the real dangers of glyphosate, and how they are ghost-writing safety reports of scientists, to continue to profiteer from a deadly chemical.”
The Manch also wants the minister to order an inquiry into the matter. “We request you to initiate an inquiry into this matter and ensure that officials work in public interest and not succumb to private lobbies,” the letter states.
This is not the first time that the Swadesh Jagran Manch is up in arms against the Modi government. Earlier this month, the organisation along with a number of others had written to the central regulator for gene technology, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, demanding that the developers of transgenic seeds be made legally liable for the cultivation of an unapproved variety of GM crops.