Tightrope walk!! The environment minister, Mr Prakash Javadekar taking a balanced view on the contentious issue
Speaking in the upper house of the Parliament on November 26, 2014, Mr Javadekar mentioned that it is in the national interest that the research in GM crops and confined field trials for bio-safety data be allowed to continue. However, he also talked about taking appropriate precautions while doing so.
"As of date, there is no ban on GM crop field trials neither by the government nor the Supreme Court," Mr Javadekar informed Lok Sabha in reply to a question.
A technical expert committee (TEC) was constituted vide Supreme Court order to address issues related to genetically modified crop field trials. It has submitted two final reports - one which has the concurrence of five of its six members and the second by Dr RS Paroda, sixth member. Both the reports have highlighted suggestions for improving the bio-safety regulation in India. Five members of TEC have recommended that the GM crop field trials be put on hold till all recommendations are implemented. The sixth member of TEC has stated that the existing safety norms for field trials prescribed by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) are adequate," Javadekar said.
Stating that the GEAC is following a case-by-case assessment of GM crops, the minister further added, "All experimental field trials are conducted as per the stringent norms prescribed in the 'Guidelines and Safety Operating Practices for the Conduct of Confined Field Trials of Transgenic Plant, 2008' which is as per international best practices."