Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has ordered a probe into how trials on genetically-modified maize were initiated at a location not approved by biotech regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).
Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Monday fired another salvo at Ramesh saying the state government was not informed about the trial of GM maize at the location.
Ramesh told HT he has directed the GEAC to probe the issue and submit a report. “I have sought an explanation from GEAC...” the minister said, emphasising on the need to conduct trials as per the requirements of the state governments.
The issue was raked up after GM maize sowed in a farm in Samastipur was destroyed in a “hurried” manner on Monday after it was found that it did not have GEAC permission. The GEAC had approved field trials at two locations in Bihar —Debusarfai and Bhagalpur.
“The GEAC had communicated its decision to Monsanto India Limited on December 12, 2010 and marked a copy to various officials of the state government, which was never received by the department. Monsanto informed the state government about the trials on February 24 but the trial was already laid on February 21
without previous information to the state government,” Kumar said.
In a letter to Ramesh, Kumar has sought an investigation into how Monsanto India Limited communicated to Bihar and other states about the field trial.
Bihar has got photographic evidence that suggests the crop was destroyed at 5 am at Pusa research centre in Samastipur and replaced with a cereal after NGOs learnt about it and informed the CM’s office.
“It has also come to our notice that the laid trial was hurriedly uprooted in an unscientific manner in the absence of any representative from the state’s agriculture department,” he said, seeking change in the gambit of GEAC regulation over field trials and inclusion of state representative in GEAC. Monsanto representatives were not available for comments.