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Field Trials of 10 Genetically Modified Crops Approved
Mar 24, 2014

On 21 March, the country’s apex regulator on Genetically Modified (GM) crops has given its permission for field trials of 10 crops. Developers of these crops first received the approval a year ago. But the decision taken by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee in March 2013 was kept in abeyance on the ground that the Supreme Court was yet to give its verdict on a petition that challenged government's permission to conduct trials of GM crops.

Last month, Environment ministry said, there was no embargo from the Supreme Court and the apex court did not ban field trials. The Union environment ministry said field trials would be permitted if states did not have any objection. GEAC’s recent approval is revalidation of the 2013 approval, which was necessary because the previous order mentioned specific time and trial locations, which were to be changed.

In this regard, Environment ministry received support from agriculture scientists, who claimed the de-facto moratorium on the field trials was putting the clock backwards while harnessing the benefits of GM technology. National Academy of Agriculture Scientists (NAAS) suggested a full-time technical chairperson of the GEAC and another regulatory panel called Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation under the department of biotechnology till a national biotechnology regulatory authority comes into existence. The same was also recommended by the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Prime Minister.

GEAC should also release the decision documents at the time of allowing field trials of a GM crop and at the time of its final release. The regulators also discussed nine cases of drugs and vaccines, which were referred to various committees and institutes, seeking clarifications. 


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