The discussion on GM Crops in Lok Sabha


The below is from the various questions raised in the question hour  in Lok Sabha during the year 2014-2015 on GM crops

  • GM crops approved for cultivation and the states in which they are approved
    • As of April 2015, BT Cotton is the only GM crop approved and is cultivated in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
    • (No coincidence that the farmer suicides happen mostly in these states)
  • R&D activities in agriculture biotechnology by providing technical and financial support for crop improvement, identification of important genes and their utilization for developing GM crops with improved agronomic characters, herbicide tolerance, delayed fruit ripening, increased yield and oil content, enhanced nutrients and tolerance to biotic and abiotic stresses.
  • The State Governments of Kerala, Bihar, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh have informed that the GM crops field trials will not be allowed in their State.
  • Total of 19 contained field trials were conducted for evaluation of seed yield, insect, fungal and viral resistance, abiotic stress tolerance, reduction of cold-induced sweetening and delayed fruit ripening in cereals, oilseeds, pulses and vegetables.
  • ICAR launched a Plan Scheme entitled ‘Network Project on Transgenics in Crops (NTPC)’ for research on GM crops in the XI five year plan with any outlay of Rs.5645.61 lakh and this is continuing in the XII plan period.
  • There are no credible scientific reports indicating that Bt cotton has any adverse impact on the environment, human health and livestock.
  • The environmental safety assessment includes studies on pollen escape, out-crossing, aggressiveness, weediness and effect of the gene on non-target organism
  • A total of 31 different projects on transgenic development and 22 different projects on functional genomics have been undertaken under this program.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the apex body notified under “Rules for the Manufacture, Use/Import/ Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro Organisms/ Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells, 1989” is following a case by case assessment of GM crops including experimental field trials for generating biosafety data.
    All GM crop field trials are carried out in confined conditions in accordance with the “Guidelines and Safe Operating Practices (SOPs) for the conduct of Confined Field Trials of Transgenic Plant, 2008” and subjected to stringent safety norms which include

    (i) maintaining a crop specific isolation distance from the periphery of the experimental site;
    (ii) maintaining a biological and physical barrier all around the experimental plot;
    (iii) post-harvest restrictions
    (iv) submission of a validated event specific test protocol; and
    (v) designating a lead scientist responsible for ensuring compliance.

    The twelve GM crops approved by the GEAC during March, 2013 to July, 2014 for conducting confined field trials include cotton, rice, castor, wheat, maize, groundnut, potato, sorghum, Brinjal, mustard, sugarcane, and chickpea.

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