Biotech Updates

India's Former Agriculture Minister Pitches for GM Crop Field Trials

September 2, 2015

Mr. Sharad Pawar, India's former Union Minister of Agriculture pitches for field trials of GM crops and has called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in clearing the policy paralysis and regulatory uncertainty for GM crops. Mr. Pawar said that in India, GM crops, including Bt brinjal and corn are ready for release, while field trials of other GM crops have been stopped. "How can you stop research or trials? If a particular GM crop is creating problems for other crops or for humans, animals, soil, water and environment, one can think of not giving clearance. But that does mean not allowing field trials," he stated.

Mr. Pawar wrote to Prime Minster Modi, saying that the NOC requirement was unnecessary and was choking the growth of the agricultural biotechnology sector. "May I seek your immediate intervention in expediting the process of enabling innovative research in the area of agriculture by either reversing the regulatory system to pre-NOC era, or facilitating the process for granting of NOCs to enable the planting of field trials to ascertain their safety, efficacy and performance — critical parameters to arrive at a decision for their large-scale plantings for the benefits of farming community," Mr. Pawar said in the letter sent last month. While conceding that the NOC requirement was "not a regressive step", he said that it has become a subject of "socio-political process rather than an objective science-based process of rigorous evaluation at the state level". He also voiced his concern and called to do away with the rule to obtain a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the concerned state government before going ahead with field trials. Some of the new GM technologies to be tested are on pulses and oilseeds that are essential for national food security. The benefits and applicability of such technologies can only be ascertained by trials and hence they need to be taken up expeditiously and encouraged," he said.

For more details, read the news articles in the Indian Express.