Field trial of a genetically modified rice variety has been deferred till an expert committee formed to look into the food security aspect submits its report.
West Bengal Environment Minister Sudarshan Ghosh Dastidar said here that the three-member committee would file its report on Sunday after which a final decision would be taken.
Mr. Ghosh told PTI that the trial, scheduled to be held at the Chinsurah Rice Research Station, was stopped following concern expressed by agricultural experts.
“Such a trial needs to be carried out at a proper ‘isolation distance' and the field for the trial has to be made at a minimum distance of 300 metres from other existing crops,” he said quoting the experts.
The Minister said various multinational companies controlling the GM seed bank are trying desperately to foist such crops upon the country.
He said that such trials of GM crops would jeopardise food security and undermine the existing seed bank in the country.
Agricultural experts have expressed reservation that such transgenic rice variety might pose a threat to bio-diversity and affect other existing seeds, thus disturbing the food security.
Earlier, field trials of genetically modified brinjal had also been cancelled on same food security concerns.
The particular rice variety on which trial was to be conducted is named ‘Oryza sativa L' containing gene for high iron content.
Calcutta University had got the permission to conduct the trials from the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in November, last year. However, GEAC had put a condition that the trial has to be made at an ‘isolation distance' of 200 metres (either to keep the area vacant or to grow any crop other than rice) to avoid genetic contamination of rice germ plasm maintained there.
Experts said the Chinsurah rice station does not have enough space to have a 200-metre ‘isolation distance' on its four sides and pointed out that in any case GM food grain is banned across the world. - PTI