NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on Friday cleared field trials for 15 Genetically Modified (GM) crops which include major crops such as rice, chickpea, brinjal and mustard among others.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), under the MoEF, has cleared 60 proposals for the GM crops at various stages of trials, so far, this year.
In a meeting of the GEAC held on Friday, the committee took up the proposals pending for over the past year. The Committee had not met between March 2013 and March 2014, while it had met thrice after this March.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of respective companies, who provided data to support their proposals, but there was no system to verify the same. “The GEAC today has cleared trials for 15 GM crops for stage one trials on one-acre plot,” said GEAC Chairman and Additional Secretary in the Environment Ministry Hem Pande.
He added that the proposals cleared on Friday were for Rabi crops and cases of Kharif crops were cleared in previous meetings.
Bt cotton is the only GM crop legally allowed for commercial release in India. A moratorium on bt brinjal was put in February 2010 by then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, after protest from civil society organisations and farmers. The government had called for scientific study and evolving a consensus on the issue.
There are as many as 20 GM crops already undergoing trails at various stages. Debates have been raging in the country over the introduction of GM crops, with some agriculturists pitching for it saying it was important for the country’s food security, while others opposed it.
A Supreme Court technical expert committee had last year recommended an indefinite moratorium on the field trials of GM crops till the government came out with a proper regulatory and safety mechanism. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, in a report in August 2012, had asked for a ban on GM food crops in the country.