The need for stopping all open field trials of GM crops in the country and enacting a domestic legislation on liability and redress of LMOs (living modified organisms) has been voiced by civil society organisations here on Tuesday.

At a press conference here on the sidelines of the ongoing sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, G.V. Ramanjaneyulu of the Centre for sustainable Agriculture, Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Convener, Coalition for a GM-Free India, and Shalini Bhutani, legal expert, said the nation would be put to risk with the introduction of GM crops.

They said the bio-safety regulatory bodies from the State to district levels were not functioning properly and trials were approved even in ecologically fragile zones like Western Ghats. Instead of merely adopting a science-based approach while importing LMOs, they said the socio-economic impact on the communities should also be taken consideration. They wanted the government to adopt a pro-farmer approach while introducing modern agriculture technology.

Expressing concern over field trials of GM crops in a few States, they said that such trials could lead to GMOs (genetically modified organisms) entering the food supply chain and endangering biodiversity.

They urged the government to enact a domestic legislation on liability and redress of LMOs even as India’s ratification of the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety was pending.

Biodiversity register

Among others, they sought creation of national biodiversity register and ensuring community rights, banning patents on any living forms and replacing the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India Bill with national bio-safety policy.

Policy implementation

Meanwhile, Charles Gbedamah, Head of Bio-safety, Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), said the implementation of Cartagena Protocol by various countries was tardy and expressed the hope that it would be implemented 100 per cent by all by 2020.

Various issues on bio-safety, including risk assessment on a science-based approach, capacity building, progress of the implementation of the protocol, handling, transport, packaging and identification of LMIOs were being discussed by the delegates.