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Organic Consumers Association

Genetically Modified Foods Capped for 10 Years by Supreme Court Panel in India

 The fate of genetically modified (GM) food crops in India has been virtually sealed.

After the damning report of the parliamentary committee on agriculture, a panel of technical experts appointed by the Supreme Court has recommended a 10-year moratorium on field trials of all GM food and termination of all ongoing trials of transgenic crops.

The panel also wants safety dossiers of all GM crops approved for trials and those in the pipeline to be reviewed by independent biosafety experts, in the light of 'several cases of ignoring problematic aspects of safety data'.

If necessary, international experts should be involved in this exercise. The apex court had specifically sought technical opinion on continuation of open field trials.

At present, several food crops are being tested in open fields by an array of Indian and multinational companies.

All such trials will have to end if the court accepts recommendations of the technical panel which was appointed with concurrence of the government.

Jairam Ramesh as environment minister had imposed an indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of the first transgenic food crop, Bt brinjal, in February 2010.

This is the first time a technical panel has specified the period of moratorium as 10 years.

'Ten years is a reasonable length of time for restructuring,' the panel said. Representatives of both pro and anti-GM lobbies were heard by the panel.

The committee's recommendations fly in the face of the stand taken by the scientific advisory committee to the PM in favour of the current regulatory system.


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