Agri Business

​GEAC sub-panel has experts relevant to safety of GM crops: MoEF

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 16, 2018 Published on September 18, 2016


The Ministry ​of Environment and Forest (MoEF) ​has allayed concerns cited by environmentalists that the GEAC sub-committee that studied the bio-safety of GM (genetically modified) mustard did not have any ‘health expert’ on board​.​

In a statement issued on Sunday, the ​Ministry clarified that the panel “had experts in subjects relevant to safety evaluation of GE (genetically-engineered) crops.

“The GEAC in its 126th meeting held on 04.01.2016, constituted a Sub-Committee with expert scientists in specific subjects relevant to safety evaluation of Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops. The Sub-Committee also consists of a health expert, Dr. B. Sesikeran, who is an MD in pathology and former Director, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and is currently serving as chairman, Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM),’ said the statement.

It said the assessment of food and environmental safety (AFES) for environmental release of GE Mustard (Brassica juncea) hybrid DMH-11 and use of parental events (Varuna bn3.6 and EH2 modbs2.99) for development of new generation hybrids has been placed on the website on 05.09.2016 for comments by stakeholders and general public for a period of 30 days.

“The full biosafety dossier is also available in the GEAC Secretariat at MoEF&CC, V-232, IInd Floor, Vayu Block, Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, Jorbagh Road, New Delhi-110003”, it added.

The clarification comes in the backdrop of environmentalists accusing the government of lack of transparency and ‘conflict of interest’, among other things. The GEAC “violated its own decision that the RARM (risk assessment and risk management) and full bio-safety dossier would be reviewed first in the GEAC. It did not discuss the document but is inviting public comments on a ‘proposal on authorisation of environmental release’ of GM mustard,” the Coalition for GM-free Food said.

It also questioned the constitution of the sub-committee, given that it had three members with close links to the GM industry -- K Veluthambi, Chair of Sub-Committee and Co-Chair of GEAC who was a GM crop developer; SR Rao, Adviser, DBT, who is on the Golden Rice Humanitarian Board, funded by Syngenta and B Sesikeran, who is a Board Member of International Life Sciences Institute funded by Bayer, Monsanto and others.

Published on September 18, 2016

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