No genetically modified (GM) crop should be introduced in India unless the biosafety and socio- economic desirability is evaluated in a “transparent” process and an accountability regime is put in place, a parliamentary panel has said.
The committee has also recommended that the environment ministry should examine the impact of GM crops on environment thoroughly, in consultation with all stakeholders so that the nation is very clear about all its probable effects before taking a call on the matter.
The remarks come after India’s GM crop regulatory Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recently recommended the commercial use of genetically modified mustard in a submission to the environment ministry.
The department-related parliamentary standing committee on science and technology and environment and forest made its recommendations in its 301st report on ‘GM crop and its impact on environment’.
It said GM mustard being a herbicide-tolerant GM organism (GMO), there is clear evidence on the adverse impacts of such GMOs elsewhere in the world.
“The committee strongly believes that unless the biosafety and socioeconomic desirability, taking into consideration long run effects, is evaluated by a participatory, independent and transparent process and a retrieval and accountability regime is put in place, no GM crop should be introduced in the country,” it said.
The report of the committee, chaired by Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury was presented to the Rajya Sabha chairman.
“In the case of GM mustard, from what one can gather from different quarters, there are serious unanswered questions.
“The committee has also come to know that many state governments in the country are opposed to its entry even in the form of field trials, leave alone commercial cultivation,” it said.
“The committee recommends that the environment ministry should examine the impact of GM crops on environment thoroughly, in consultation with the concerned government agencies, experts, environmentalists, civil society, and other stakeholders so that the nation is very clear about all its probable impacts before taking a call in the matter,” it said.
The Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), Delhi University, had submitted an application to the GEAC for the environmental release of GM mustard (Brassica juncea) hybrid DMH-11 and the use of parental events (varuna bn 3.6 and EH2 mod bs 2.99) for the development of a new generation of hybrids.
The environment ministry had received over 700 comments from various stakeholders, including farmers and researchers, on the Assessment of Food and Environmental Safety (AFES) report on GM Mustard, which it had earlier posted on the ministry website.
The application was submitted in 2015 after which several rounds of meeting were held by the GEAC. The sub-committee also convened meetings with experts.