Agri Business

Genetic engineering panel objects to Mahyco's weed trials in non-Bt cotton

K. V. Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on February 10, 2011

btcotton   -  Business Line

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) which works under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and regulates biotechnology initiatives in the farm sector has said there is no need to have the RRF (Round up Ready Flex ) trait in refuge crop as non-transgenic hybrids could be used as refuge.

It took objection to Mahyco's reported trials to test RRF in non-Bt cotton seed in refuge crop. The committee discussed the issue after an expert member informed it about Mahyco's trials in this regard.

Show-cause notice

Asserting that planting of refuge with unapproved events cannot be allowed, it has decided to issue a show-cause notice to the Maharashtra company seeking an explanation on why penal action under the Environmental (Protection) Act should not be initiated against it for violations of Rules 1989.

The rules govern management of hazardous wastes.

Contentious method

RRF, which triggered a discussion in the country, is a technology that gives plants protection when herbicide is used to kill weeds in the fields. While it can kill weeds, herbicide cannot harm the RRF-protected plant.

Environmentalists have been arguing that RRF would be detrimental to friendly weeds too and warned that it could create an imbalance in the plant population.

At a recent meeting, GEAC took serious objection to the use of the RRF trait in seeds that are meant for refugia. RRF is an add-on to Bollgard-II, the second-generation biotechnology cotton technology developed by Monsanto and being marketed by Mahyco-Monsanto in India.

Mahyco had sought permission from the Committee to produce non Bt RRF seeds for use as refugia while planting transgenic cotton hybrids containing Bollgard II RRF.

“We have not approved RRF cotton hybrids for environmental release and therefore planting of refuge with unapproved events cannot be allowed. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all approvals have been obtained prior to initiating the trials.”

Company response

When contacted for its response, Mahyco said it had not received any communication from the GEAC on the issue.

“We have not received any show-cause notice as yet and we will respond once we receive the communication. Mahyco, being a responsible, law-abiding company, always works within the regulatory framework and has fully complied with the orders of the Government authorities,” a company spokesperson said.

Published on February 09, 2011

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