Crop Biotech Update

India's GEAC renamed as Appraisal Committee

August 6, 2010

India's apex biotech regulatory committee, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC)  that functions as a statutory body under the Environment Protection Act 1986 of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), has been changed  to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee. The change was effected through a Gazette Notification issued on July 22, 2010 which is now available on the MoEF's website.

In Feb 2010, the Minister of MoEF announced his intention to change the name of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee while imposing moratorium on Bt brinjal in his decision on commercialization of Bt brinjal on February 9, 2010. Under the EPA 1986 "Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989", GEAC is responsible for granting permits to conduct experimental and large-scale open field trials and also grant approval for commercial release of biotech crops. With the changing name of GEAC to appraisal committee, the mandate and its statutory powers as a scientific body remain uncertain.

MoEF's decision on commercialization of Bt brinjal is available at http://www.moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/minister_REPORT.pdf  Download MoEF's Gazette notification in this regard from http://www.envfor.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/613.pdf