Union Ministry of Environment & Forest approved field trials for Genetically Modified (GM) crops rice, wheat, cotton and maize on 26 February 2014. Ministry of Environment & Forest cleared Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s (GEAC) decision to allow gene modification field trials for food crops.
Field trials are pilot projects that are conducted to test efficacy of the seeds. Earlier, field trial of the crops was stalled by GEAC (country’s apex bio-safety regulatory authority) till a verdict was given by Supreme Court of India on a Public Interest Litigation filed by activist Aruna Rodrigues opposing GM field trails.
Technical Expert committee recommended an indefinite temporary prohibition on trails until certain shortcomings in the process were addressed by the government. Later the court asked the government to submit an affidavit on its position and the government is expected to submit it soon.
In November 2013, the Maharashtra government became the first state to permit field trials of GM food crops. The companies like Bioscience, Mahyco, and BASF India would go ahead with trails for genetically modified crops.
Genetically Modified crops
The Genetically modified (GM) crops that are derived from organisms whose genetic material (DNA) has been modified in a way that does not occur naturally.
The genetic modification could be aimed at altering the nutrient content of food, reducing its allergenic potential or improving the efficiency of food production systems.
Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) functions:
• To permit the use of GMOs and products thereof for commercial applications.
• To adopt producers for restriction or prohibition, production, sale, import & use of Genetically Modified Organisms both for research and applications under EPA.
• To approve for conduct of large scale field trials, evaluation of large scale field trial data and final approval for release of transgenic crop in to the environment.
• To authorize large scale production and release of GMOs and products thereof into the environment.
To authorize agencies or persons to have powers to take punitive actions under the EPA.
When: 26 February 2014