Updated on 18 June 2013
An insider in the committee mentioned that GEAC's decisions on allowing of trials are still not 100 percent complete as they need to get further approvals at the state level and the clearances come at official's whims and fancies. "GEAC is like a toothless tiger," remarked the expert.
Dr Seetharama noted that the top priority before the industry association is to hold meetings with the principal secretaries of various state governments to make them realize that the laboratory testing by state government is not required, when that has already happened once at the central level.
"Our immediate concern is to get permission for states to conduct GM crop research trials. That includes No Objection Certificates (NOCs) for biosafety level one and two trials as already approved by GEAC in the past, and those likely to be permitted based on last month's GEAC meeting, the minutes of which are being eagerly awaited. In this connection, we have already started contacting state governments all over again. Thus, one of the major concerns of the industry is to seek permission for testing GM crop cultivars without losing much time-already two precious years have been lost, which translates into enormous cost to the industry, and a much larger opportunity cost to the country," stated Dr Seetharama.
Speaking recently at an industry event, Dr Swapan Kumar Dutta, deputy director general, crop science, Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) and a member of reconstituted GEAC remarked, "I strongly believe that GEAC would have to work in a different manner. Scientific questions must be answered by scientists and not by persons with non scientific attitude. It is very important that these issues be understood from a scientific perspective as GM crops are potentially inevitable."
Streamlined regulations are still a distant dream!
In her recent reference to GM crops in the parliament, Ms Jayanthi Natarajan, minister of state (independent charge) for environment and forests, stated that the government is following a policy of case-by-case approval of GM crops. "Just in case the transgenic crop is not found suitable for release in the environment or human consumption, the product is rejected during the trial stage itself. A final view on the commercialization of GM plants is taken only when there is a clear economic and technical justification for release of the product," the minister said.