NOTE: There seems to be a sting in the tail in the conditions set down for GM field trials by the Supreme Court.
Up till now GM trials in India have been utterly shambolic with often not only the farmer on whose land the trial is taking place, his local community and even the State not being told that a GM crop is being tested, but even the regulators themselves seemingly in difficultes over what is happening and where. As a result, all kinds of problems and abuses have occurred, up to and including unapproved trial crops being eaten by farmers and their families or sold on into local markets.
Now significant new requirements are to be placed on the conduct of GM trials in India. 200 meter isolation distances will be required, plus a protocol for testing for contamination up to 0.01 percent in neighbouring fields, with a designated scientist being made responsible for ensuring that all the conditions are complied with during the trials.
The real sting in the tail though may be this:
"The bench said GEAC, the GM regulatory authority under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, should submit a detailed data, if any, about the effects of GM crops that is the toxicity and allergic reactions before the court."
This is exactly what the regulators have been trying so hard to avoid, despite pressure from both the Supreme Court and, more recently, the Central Information Commission.
SC allows approved field trials of GM crops
Press Trust of India (PTI), MAY 8 2007 http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Healthcare__Biotech/Biotech/SC_allows_approved_field_trials_of_GM_crops/articleshow/2019667.cms
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Centre to conduct approved field trials of genetically modified (GM) seeds in the country subject to certain restrictions.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan permitted field trials of GM crops, which were earlier approved by the the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) in April and May 2006, provided it fulfilled certain conditions.
The government should increase the isolation distance up to 200 metres between the GM planted fields and the other fields and a protocol for testing for contamination up to 0.01 percent for neighbouring fields was established, the apex court said.
It also said a designated scientist should be made responsible for ensuring that all the conditions were complied with during the field trials of GM seeds. While the court allowed the commercial release of four approved BT cotton varieties, it said no new species should be introduced.
The bench said GEAC, the GM regulatory authority under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, should submit a detailed data, if any, about the effects of GM crops that is the toxicity and allergic reactions before the court.
The apex court, on a public interest litigation filed by Aruna Rodrigues and others, had on September 22, last year had directed GEAC not to clear any GM crop for fresh field trials.
On May 1 last year, it had also said the GEAC and not the Review Committee for Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) under the department of Biotechnology should be responsible for field trials and approval of GM crops.