India's GEAC Approves Release of Public Sector-Bt Cotton Variety

India's apex biotech regulatory body, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), has approved the commercial release of an indigenous cotton variety called Bikaneri Narma (BN) Bt expressing Bt Cry 1Ac protein in the North, Central and South Cotton Growing Zones in India. This Bt cotton variety is the first public sector genetically modified (GM) crop in India developed by the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), with the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharward, Karnataka. While reviewing its earlier decision directing the CICR to conduct large scale trials (LST) of Bt BN variety in North Zone, the committee decided to approve the commercial cultivation of Bt BN variety because the farmers can save the seeds for planting the following season if it was allowed for LST. The Crop Biotech Update published GEAC's earlier decision to approve the LST of publicly-bred Bt BN variety at http://www.isaaa.org/kc/cropbiotechupdate/online/default.asp?Date=4/25/2008#2428

Interestingly, farmers in India have planted 131 different Bt cotton hybrids over 6.2 million hectares in 2007 with the first Bt cotton hybrids approved in 2002. In 2008, the GEAC also released an additional 31 new Bt cotton hybrids for North Zone, 45 new Bt cotton hybrids for Central Zone and 18 new Bt cotton hybrids for South Zone which are derivatives of four different events, to be cultivated along with other approved Bt cotton hybrids.

For more information download http://www.envfor.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/decision-may-84.pdf Contact b.choudhary@isaaa.org for news on biotech developments in India.

This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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