Summary of recent TEC Report on GM Crops

The Supreme Court appointed five- member Technical Expert Committee(TEC) on GM crops, released its recommendations recently. The committee had scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology and the National Institute of Nutrition.Genetically modified crops (GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques, which are then used in agriculture.

The panel received 467 memorandums and 14,862 documents, and reviewed evidence given by 50 organizations during its 27 sittings on the subject.

Important Recommendations:

• A 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops.

• Safety dossiers of all GM crops approved for trials and those in the pipeline to be reviewed by independent bio safety experts, in the light of ‘several cases of ignoring problematic aspects of safety data’.

• Key recommendations by the committee include a reassessment of the bio safety data that is generated by field trials; ensuring there is no conflict of interest (that is, those tasked with evaluating the bio safety of GM crops are themselves not stakeholders in promoting such crops); a ban on outsourcing or subcontracting field trials; and ensuring that crops being considered for testing be evaluated by rodent-feeding trials.

Criticism

Even in India and abroad people are talking that the report by the Supreme court appointed committee on GM crops lacks focus and a balanced scientific analysis. And many associations are saying that these recommendations, if implemented will have far reaching adverse impact that will deny Indian farmers the various benefits of the latest GMO technologies such as Bt cotton from which Indian farmers have reaped undisputed benefits.

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