Agri Business

Environment ministry draws flak over GM mustard data

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on April 06, 2016

Central Information Commission directs GEAC to share bio safety data on GMOs by April 30

In a new move, the biotech regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has been directed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) to furnish all bio safety data related to genetically modified (GM) mustard by end of this month.

The committee has also been asked to furnish the bio safety data related to all other genetically modified organisms (GMO) by April 30.

The GEAC, under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate, had rejected earlier requests for the bio safety data furnished by the crop developer in 2014 and 2015 on the basis that it would ‘breach commercial confidence’ of the crop developer.

Kavitha Kuruganti, national Convenor of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) and an anti-GM activist, had moved the commission contending that existing orders by the Supreme Court and the CIC set a different precedence.

“Data on safety issues which is matter of overriding public interest cannot be considered as confidential information,” the CIC order noted, directing GEAC to “provide such information which could be given as per the Protocol, more specifically the bio-safety dossier as submitted by the crop developer in 2014 and in 2015, and any other material submitted by them and under review, after separating confidential information if any, as per their independent decision.”

The order further explained that the all documents relating to GEAC recommendation, sub-committee report, revised dossier (on bio-safety) as recommended and Risk Assessment and Risk Management document need to be furnished to the public in public interest and that “its denial to appellant is not legal.”

“The people should know how and why GM mustard is being permitted or denied because they have to consume that food or feed and face consequences. It is a policy decision by the public authority which needs to be revealed to the public in general as mandated by S4 because they are going to be affected if GM mustard is marked,” the order said.

The GEAC was expected to hold its next meeting on April 11, which has, however, been postponed.

“GEAC was scheduled to meet on April 11, in which we, Coalition for a GM-Free India, were invited to participate and share our concerns. It is not clear if the CIC developments are in any way connected with this postponement of the meeting,” Kuruganti said.

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Published on April 06, 2016
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