Other States

Gujarat refuses GM field trials of food crops

Even as the Union Ministry of Environment seems to be in favour of experimenting with genetically modified (GM) crops, the Gujarat government has firmly indicated that it will not approve of field trials of GM food crops in the State.

In a letter dated September 30 to Kapil Shah of the Baroda-based NGO Jatan, , a section officer of the Gujarat agriculture and cooperation department has said that after due consideration of various representations, the government had decided not to grant a no objection certificate (NOC) for field trials of GM food crops.

The NOC from the State is a statutory requirement for conducting open air field trials. However, it will approve field trials for non- GM food crops, Mr. Shah said.

Mr. Shah told The Hindu on Thursday that after a spate of campaigns and representations to the Chief Minister and other authorities, he had written a letter to the government on September 11 demanding to know what steps were taken on the issue of GM crops. This clarification was in response to that. His efforts and those of other groups have resulted in the Chief Minister appointing a committee to formulate a policy for organic farming in the State.

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) on July 18 had recommended 13 cases of GM crops for confined field trials subject to NOC from the State government.

There are 79 applications for field trials pending before the GEAC, including 42 new cases involving confined field trials related to cotton, rice, castor, maize, wheat, groundnut, sugarcane, potato, chick pea, mustard, sorghum and brinjal.

The centre also has to decide on the commercial release of Bt brinjal which had been kept in abeyance by the earlier government.

Welcoming the decision, the Coalition for GM Free India in a statement said Gujarat joins Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana which have denied permissions for field trials of GM crops.

The Coalition said this decision was also in line with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and the Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee.

With Gujarat also saying no to field trials of GM crops, Maharashtra remains the only State where field trials were taking place, the statement said. The Coalition had earlier written to Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar pointing to the rampant violations of GM field trials of Monsanto in his home State as reported by the media and demanded that he immediately stop all GM trials.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 9:50:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/gujarat-refuses-gm-field-trials-of-food-crops/article6485577.ece

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