A public forum held this week in Hyderabad, India, has demanded an outright ban on genetic engineering.

Attended by farmers, scientific researchers and environmental activists from a number of South Asian countries, the forum released a declaration of its conclusions yesterday [Wednesday], reported The Hindu newspaper.

The declaration stated categorically that there is no place for transgenic crops in Asia or for that matter anywhere else in the world. It praised the African continent’s “brave” refusal to accept GM crops, and said that as Europe remained strongly in opposition and Latin American countries including Argentina and Mexico recorded “a string of GE disasters”, the focus of the biotech sector had sharpened on the Indian subcontinent.

Delegates to the forum included representatives of Genetic Resources Action International (Grain), the South Asia Network for Food Ecology and Culture (SANFEC) as well as attendees from South and South East Asia, Africa and Europe.

The declaration went on to condemn the recent talks between the Indira Gandhi Agricultural University and the biotech multinational Syngenta.

It is unclear what weight, if any, the forum’s declaration will carry in shaping public and government opinion in this contentious debate.