The government is following a policy of case by case approval of genetically modified (GM) crops, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh told the Lok Sabha here on Wednesday.

In view of concerns over the safety, efficacy and agronomic performance of transgenic seeds, extensive evaluation and regulatory approval process takes place before any GM plant is approved for commercial cultivation, he said in a written reply.

The process includes generation of relevant bio-safety information and its elaborate analysis to ensure food and environmental safety. Under the environmental safety assessment studies are conducted on pollen escape out-crossing, aggressiveness and weeding, effect of the gene on non-target organisms, presence of protein in soil and its effect on soil micro-flora, confirmation of the absence of terminator gene and baseline susceptibility studies.

The food and feed safety studies include assessment on composition analysis, allergenicity and toxicological studies and feeding studies on fish, chicken, cows and buffaloes, the Minister said.

In case, the transgenic crop is not found suitable for release in the environment or human consumption, the product is rejected during the trial stage itself. A final view on the commercialization of GM plants is taken only when there is a clear economic and technical justification for release of the product, he said.

The data generated on the safety, efficacy and performance of Bt brinjal concludes that Bt brinjal is expected to provide enhanced economic benefits to farmers. These findings are in conformity with the Bt cotton experience in India and international experience with GM crops. However, as the Ministry has received strong views both in favour and against commercialization of Bt brinjal in India from the various stakeholders including the State governments, farmers, civil societies, NGOs and scientists, the Ministry decided to hold national consultations with the various stakeholders before a final view on the commercialization of Bt brinjal is taken, Mr. Ramesh assured.

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