Our Bureau

Hyderabad, March 6

Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), a NGO promoting organic farming methods, has called for immediate halt to field trials in genetically modified (GM) food crops as they posed serious threats to human health and environment.

Such trials should not happen until India first decides through a coherent, well-debated policy evolved with regard to GM food crops.

Addressing a press conference here on Monday, Dr G.V. Ramanjaneyulu, Chief Executive, and Ms Kavitha Kuruganti, an associate of CSA said they had found evidence of "blatant violations in bio safety guidelines" with regard to GM food crop trials in rice and brinjal in Andhra Pradesh.

Alleging that companies indulge in `contaminate-first-regulate-later' approach, she said nobody had done any critical study on the impacts of such foods on human health. "They conduct field trials unscientifically but pick only good samples to show to the regulator in order to get the nod," she said.

FIELD TRIALS

The CSA team found that there were violations in field trials of Bt brinjal and Bt rice in Andhra Pradesh in the kharif season in 2004, she said and pointed out that some companies denied at a Genetic Engineering Approval Committee meeting that there were any violations of bio safety norms.

While Bt brinjal trials were being carried out in Pandipadu village in Kurnool district, Bt rice trials were reported in Mysireddipalli village in Ragareddy district.

"Untested products are routinely being allowed to contaminate the food/feed chain. It is really time that GEAC and DBT stop giving permissions for trials when they do not obviously have any control over the situation," Ms Kavitha said.

Dr Ramanjaneyulu demanded that a broad-based committee investigate violations in the trials that happened so far.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated March 7, 2006)
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