Group of secretaries calls for fixing genetically modified crop regulatory issues

NEW DELHI: A group of secretaries has recommended resolving regulatory issues of genetically modified (GM) crops, Parliament was informed today.

Bt cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation in the country.

"A group of secretaries has recommended fast tracking of Biosafety Regulatory Level 1 (BRL1) trial and for resolving regulatory issues of GM crops," Minister of State for Agriculture Mohanbhai Kalyanjibhai Kundariya said in a writen reply to the Lok Sabha.

These recommendations have been shared between the ministry and other departments including the Ministry of Environment and Forest, he added.

The minister was replying to a query whether a group of secretaries has recommended promotion of chickpea and pigeon pea as GM pulses.

He informed that the ICAR-Indian Institute of Pulses Research, Kanpur has developed transgenic events for resistance against gram pod borer in chickpea and pigeonpea.

"Application has been submitted to Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) for event selection trials of four transgenic events, two each in chickpea and pigeonpea," Kundariya said.

"After the selection of appropriate events and clearance of RCGM, transgenic events will be submitted to GEAC for further observation and approval of BRL1 trial," he added.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) is a biotechnology regulator.
Meanwhile, the GEAC is looking into a proposal for commercial cultivation of a GM hybrid variety of the mustard plant. It had asked for testing of GM-mustard seed to address safety concerns before taking a final decision on commercial cultivation.

This is the first proposal that has come up before the NDA government after the previous regime had put a moratorium on commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in 2010.

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