Development of Genetically Modified (GM) crops has hit a new stumbling block with environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who has asked the Genetically Modified Appraisal Committee not to approve field trials for any GM crop without approval of the state government.
Ramesh issued the direction after Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar opposed the GEAC approval to field trials of GM maize in Bihar. Kumar sought withdrawal of the approval to multi-national company Monsanto, stating that the risks involved were now known.
In a letter to GEAC, Ramesh said, "The Bihar CM's call reinforces my belief that the biotech regulation, particularly in the field of agriculture, cannot be a purely scientific enterprise."
The GEAC had allowed field trials of GM maize - an insect and herbicide-resistant variety - in Bihar, UP, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
"Introduction of GM maize will increase usage of chemicals… and may cause much more harm to human health," said Kavita Karuganti of Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture.