After moratorium on BT Brinjal, the environment ministry will review all existing field trials of the genetically modified crops in India for safety and the protocols of safety adopted by trial agencies.
A committee is being set up on directions of the Supreme Court, which wanted the government to constitute a panel to advise it on safety aspects of GM crop field trials. Several field trails of GM recrops including rice, tomato, brinjal and cotton are going on in different parts of the country.Environment minister Jairam Ramesh at a recent meeting with the petitioner, Aruna Rodrigues, finalised the terms of reference of the committee, which included comprehensive review of the field trials being conducted. The panel would see whether the GM crops have met the safety parameters as prescribed by GM regulator and impact on local vegetation.
Rodrigues, in her petition, had alleged that field trials being conducted by various companies after getting approval from Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee had contaminated local vegetation and poultry. Although stray incidents of contamination had been confirmed in certain states, no case of large scale contamination was reported. The petitioner sought a stay on field trials immediately but the court did not agree.
According to ministry officials, the committee will be broad-based to taken into account all view-points. “We want both people in favour and against the GM in the committee,” a ministry functionary said.
The panel, whose members are yet to be finalised, would have representatives from civil society and GM experts from the government and outside. There is a fight going between the ministry and the petitioner on who would be the members of the panel.