GEAC for SC order modification

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Aug 17 | Updated: Aug 18 2007, 07:21am hrs
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), after approving field trials of genetically modified (GM) food crops for the first time, has decided to file an application for modification of the Supreme Court order of May 8, 2007.

The Supreme Court in May 8, this year had stipulated that an isolation distance of 200 metre should be maintained during GM crops field trials. Prior to the field trials, the concerned company or the institution submit a validated event specific test protocol to detect at least 0.01% genetic contamination and confirm that there has been no contamination.

According to minutes of the 79th GEAC which was made available on Friday, implications of the Supreme Court order was discussed in the meeting and the members authorised the chairman, BS Parsheera to file an application urging the apex court to modify its order.

Deliberating on reports submitted by the GEAC sub-panel headed by the CICR director, BM Khadi and the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM), members were of the view that a uniform isolation distance is not tenable as the nature of the pollen flow and level of contamination depends on the biology of the crop and the host environment in which it is being cultivated.

The GEAC noted that Indian Minimum Seed Certification Standards Manual has prescribed different isolation distance for different crops depending upon its nature of pollination and the pollinating agents GEAC also resolved that when adequate biosafety measures are to be ensured, the need for a validated protocol to detect at least 0.01% genetic contamination may be dispensed with.

However, while approving large scale field trials of four Bt Brinjal at five locations, the GEAC directed the developers to comply with the Supreme Court order, until iit is favourably modified.