Moily permits field trial of GM crops

Moily permits field trial of GM crops

A change at the helm of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), combined with factors such as the upcoming Parliamentary election has ushered in a drastic change in the government’s policies, one of them being its stand on GM crops.

After having taken over as Environment minister in December, Veerappa Moily on Thursday allowed field trials for several genetically modified crops being developed by private agriculture and biotechnology companies.

The government’s move comes after keeping GM crop trials on hold for almost a year. The decision to withhold field trials was taken by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in March 2013. Former environment minister, Jayanthi Natarajan kept these decisions in abeyance, citing a public interest litigation against GM crops that was being heard in the Supreme Court.

However, Moily took a different stand, arguing that the court had not placed curbs on field trials. “There was a misunderstanding. The Supreme Court did not ban field trials. We are approving the GEAC decisions subject to certain conditions and no objections from the state government,” he said on Thursday.

GM crops to be tested in field conditions include several varieties of cotton, rice, maize and castor. While some of them will undergo field trials, the GEAC has approved pollen flow and other on-site studies for many varieties. It also increased trial locations in various climatic zones.

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