GEACs no to Sungros Bt brinjal; conditional yes for Bt cabbage

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi, Oct 3 | Updated: Oct 4 2007, 05:58am hrs
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has turned down the request of Sungro Seeds Research Ltd for largescale field trials of its six Bt brinjal hybrids. Sungro Seeds has developed six Bt brinjal, namely SBJ 1 Bt, SBJ 2 Bt, SBJ 4 Bt, SBJ 6 Bt, SBJ 7 Bt and SBJ 8 Bt. The GEAC, in this context, noted that as these transgenic brinjals were developed by transfer of Bt brinjal event developed by Mahyco and as Mahycos Bt brinjal is still under review, the present request cannot be considered at this stage.

The 80th meeting of GEAC held on Tuesday, however, gave conditional approval for multi-locational field trials of two Bt cabbage hybrids (SCB-3 Bt & SCB-7 Bt) developed by Sungro. The GEAC noted that as per decision of the Supreme Court on May 8, 2007, field trials of GM crops with new events was specific to 24 items approved in the period May 1, 2006 to September 22, 2006. GM crops approved during this period was rice, okra, groundnut, potato, tomato, brinjal, castor, cauliflower, mustard and cotton. As Bt cabbage was not listed in the 24 items approved by the GEAC during the period in question, the request for multi-locational field trials cannot be considered without informing the court.

However, the GEAC finally decided that as the government has moved an application for modification of the Supreme Court's order, permission for multi-locational field trials of Bt cabbage can be given subject to the outcome of court's order. The trials would be conducted as per protocols laid down by the court.

The GEAC also approved strip trials of transgenic tomato (cv. Pusa Ruby) developed by National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology in the premises of institutions and companies. It also allowed field trials of Mahyco's Bt rice and Central Potato Research Institute's transgenic potato lines, SP-951.