Why in news? Gujarat, Maharashtra and Telangana, have deferred a proposal, approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), to test a new kind of transgenic cotton.
- This transgenic cotton seed that contains a gene, Cry2Ai, that purportedly makes cotton resistant to pink bollworm, a major pest.
What is the status of transgenic crops in India?
- The GEAC, under the Union Environment Ministry, isn’t the final arbiter in the case of approval of GM crops.
- There is a long-standing litigation in the Supreme Court on the permissibility of allowing transgenic food crops in farmer fields based on petitions
- There is a stay on the release of the crop because it would encourage farmers to spray herbicides, which are banned in India.
- GEAC had accorded a clearance for GM mustard, but went back on its decision and imposed additional tests and also approved GM brinjal, but this was put on an “indefinite moratorium”
What is the process of regulating transgenic crops in India?
- The process involves in inserting transgenic genes into plants to elicit a sustained, protective response is a mix of both science and chance.
- Multiple safety assessments done by committees before they are cleared for further tests in open plots of lands, located at either agricultural universities or are plots controlled by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR).
- A transgenic plant can apply for commercial clearance, only after it has proven to be demonstrably better than comparable non-GM variants on claimed parameters (for instance, drought tolerance or insect resistance) without posing ecological harm to other species that may be being cultivated in the vicinity.
- Open field trials often take place over multiple crop seasons, and types of geographical conditions, to assess its suitability across different States.
- It functions under Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
- Committee is responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.