The regulatory system for GMOs (genetically modified organisms) in India is in tatters. So said the Coalition for a GMFree India (CGMFI) in 2017 after media reports about the illegal cultivation of GM soybean in the country.
In India, five high-level reports have already advised against the adoption of GM crops:
- The ‘Jairam Ramesh Report’, imposing an indefinite moratorium on Bt Brinjal [February 2010];
- The ‘Sopory Committee Report’ [August 2012];
- The ‘Parliamentary Standing Committee’ [PSC] Report on GM crops [August 2012];
- The ‘Technical Expert Committee [TEC] Final Report’ [June-July 2013]; and
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment and Forests [August 2017].
Given the issues surrounding GM crops (including the now well-documented failure of Bt cotton in the country), little wonder these reports advise against their adoption. Little wonder too given that the story of GM ‘regulation’ in India has been a case of blatant violations of biosafety norms, hasty approvals, a lack of monitoring abilities, general apathy towards the hazards of contamination and a lack of institutional oversight.
Despite these reports, the drive to get GM mustard commercialised (which would be India’s first officially-approved GM food crop) has been relentless. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has pushed ahead regardless by giving it the nod. However, the case of GM mustard remains in limbo and stuck…