The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), country’s biotechnology regulatory body, on Wednesday reportedly decided that Bt brinjal seeds developed by Mahyco would be kept with National Board of Plant Genetic Resources till the new safety tests are conducted.
The GEAC, which had given approval to Bt brinjal in October 2009, also decided that the GM food crop developer would be liable for any leakage of Bt brinjal seeds.
This has apparently been done to ally the fear of NGOs that spurious Bt brinjal seeds can reach the market as in the case of Bt cotton. “The GEAC has decided to involve liability clause in case Bt brinjal seeds reach the market,” said PM Bhargava, a GEAC member.
Mahyco managing director MK Sharma told HT: “We will comply will all rules but since we have not got any official communique in this regard, we cannot comment.” Rajini Warrier, member secretary of GEAC said the minutes of the meeting would be placed on GEAC’s website on Thursday.
Environment and Forest minister Jairam Ramesh last Tuesday had imposed an indefinite moratorium on Bt brinjal till independent safety tests are done. He had said that only eight of the 30 mandatory safety tests were conducted by GEAC, while asking it to prepare a protocol for remaining 22 tests and get it done from independent organisations.
“We have started the process to implement the minister’s recommendations to GEAC,” a committee member said. The GEAC also decided that a committee of scientists be constituted to get the tests done.
Bhargava said that Ramesh’s decision meant that there was a moratorium on all GM food crops. Ramesh, however, said that the moratorium was only for the specific variety of Bt brinjal and is not applicable to other GM food crops. Various GM food crops such as Bt tomato and cauliflower are at the various stages of trials in India.