Parliamentary committee slams regulatory system on GM crops

Says the crops have an impact on health and the environment and that these aspects were overlooked while approving Bt Brinjal trials in India

The parliamentary committee on agriculture has strongly criticised the regulatory system on genetically modified (GM) crops in the country, calling it inadequate and ineffective.

Speaking to Down To Earth soon after tabling the report in the Lok Sabha on August 9, chairperson of the 31-member standing committee, Basudeb Acharia of the CPM, said, “The committee found that the present regulatory system in our country which comprises of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is inadequate and the regulatory system needs to be more robust, ensuring severe scrutiny.”

basudeb The committee found that the present regulatory system in our country which comprises of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is inadequate and the regulatory system needs to be more robust, ensuring severe scrutiny.
Basudeb Acharia
Chairperson, parliamentary committee on agriculture



Significantly, 11 of the committee members are from the ruling Congress Party. The report, titled Cultivation of Genetically Modified Food Crops–Prospects and Effects was put together after two-and-a-half years by the committee which took up the matter suo moto in 2009-2010. It came in the wake of the huge controversy over GEAC, the regulator, approving India’s first food crop, Bt Brinjal for commercial release.

The committee found that GM crops have an impact on health and the environment and these aspects were overlooked while approving Bt Brinjal trials in India. It also states that there was an urgent need of GM labelling laws in India. Acharia said that there are several issues related to GM food crops  and the report looks at them critically. The report also recommends to the government what initiatives and amendments are required in the regulatory system for GM crops. According to sources, the report exposes gaps in the Union government's policy on promoting GM crops, which ignores several things like biosafety, biodiversity and food and seed sovereignty and farmers livelihoods.

The report holds great importance as it is being presented at a time when the Union government, especially the ministry of science and technology, is trying hard to introduce a new regulatory system for GM crops by the name Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI). MPs across political parties, including some from the ruling coalition (Congress and Trinamool Congress), have opposed the BRAI Bill due to its undemocratic and unscientific nature. The Bill proposes setting up BRAI under the ministry of science and technology which will act as a single window clearance system for products of modern biotechnology, including GM crops. At present GM crops are under the purview of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

 

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  • The report is based on

    The report is based on voluminous material.parliamentary committee is to be congratulated for their sincere effort.the nation as a whole should study the recommendations in the interest of the nation and agriculture. Dr Rajamohan

    Posted by: Anonymous | 3 years ago | Reply
  • If Allergy towards MNC is

    If Allergy towards MNC is pathological then is it not a biological trait on which the MNC's have control. Is not allergy science based? The parliamentary panel followed a transparent operating protocol unlike the "onsanto's" or other "American MNC's" opaque template. The scientific merit discourse therefore needs a new and higher level of "interpretation".

    Posted by: Anonymous | 3 years ago | Reply
  • Now we are able to get some

    Now we are able to get some good people in our parliament taking good decisions. We congratulate them and pursue in this direction that government move in the said direction. Also, government must keep on eye on all those foreign organizations and research institutes like ICRISAT not to meddle in the GM crops pushing in the farmers field. All state governments must come forward to see non-GM seed is readily available to farmers. If anybody creates problems in this direction, put such people or organizations behind bar along with heavy penalties.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 3 years ago | Reply
  • hope now the PM will take

    hope now the PM will take back his words when he said that "NGOs who oppose nuclear and GM crops are funded by foreign powers" implying they were not in the nation's interest. He owes an apology to several honest citizens who actively expressed the same reservations that the Parliamentarians have now expressed and they don't deserve to be labelled like that by the Prime Minister.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 3 years ago | Reply
  • From the moment it was known

    From the moment it was known that Basudeb Acharia was going to hold hearings and submit a report on GM crops, everyone knew he would submit a report such as this one he has submitted. There is no surprise here. That Acharia has become a hand maiden of the anti-GM lobby, particularly the Greenpeace is well known. No one should be surprised if this report was drafted by the anti-GM lobby. The communist Acharia's allergy toward an American MNC Monsanto and its technology is pathological. This report is against scientific the prevailing evidence and must be damned.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 3 years ago | Reply
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