Govt hopes new guidelines will help in lessening acrimonious debates between stakeholders
According to the article below, India is considering establishing guidelines for a socioeconomic assessment before GMOs are introduced. If the guidelines are sufficiently strong, and if they are followed – they would have to be mandatory – it could be an extremely positive development.
Norway mandates such an assessment, requiring that any given GMO be shown to promote sustainable development and to be of benefit to society before it can be released.
If India does introduce such guidelines, those who oppose the introduction of GM crops may find themselves having to counter some of the more creative claims from the pro-GMO lobby regarding supposed socioeconomic benefits.
Some of these claims are debunked in the book GMO Myths and Truths, which is available on Amazon.
One factor that must be taken into consideration is the potentially huge cost of GMO contamination of non-GMO and organic crops, which is covered in GMO Myths and Truths as well as in a Friends of the Earth report, “The socio-economic effects of GMOs”.
Centre to consider socio-economic factors in GM crop assessment
The Hindu Business Line, August 23, 2016
With the debate on genetically modified (GM) crops getting intense, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is considering the option of putting in place guidelines for socio-economic assessment to judge proposed GM varieties on the basis of factors such as economy, health, environment, society and culture.
“Guidelines on socio-economic considerations will make it easier for the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee to decide whether a proposed GM variety should be allowed and help in lessening acrimonious debates between various stakeholders,” a government official told BusinessLine. A model ‘socio economic assessment’ questionnaire for developers who apply for approval of their GM-based crop has been developed as part of a two-year project on developing guidelines, tools and methodologies for socio-economic assessment commissioned by the MoEF.
The findings of a report prepared by Delhi-based research body RIS, — in collaboration with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Delhi; GIDR, Ahmedabad; NAARM, Hyderabad; ISEC, Bengaluru; University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur; and TNAU, Coimbatore — will be discussed at length this week by policy makers and experts, after which follow-up action will be taken.
“The MoEF has to decide on putting up the draft guidelines for comments from interested parties, following which the bigger decision on whether it should be made part of the mandatory official guidelines could be taken,” the official added. While India had allowed introduction of Monsanto’s GM cotton seed in 2002, it is yet to allow GM food. Earlier this year, the GEAC deferred its decision on commercial cultivation of GM mustard in the country following deficiencies pointed out by a sub-committee as well as protests by a number of farmer groups.
“The report discusses in detail the factors to be considered to ensure a GM crop does not have any adverse impact on the economy or society, and puts in place a framework for a cost-benefit analysis,” the official said.
The move to come up with socio-economic considerations is in line with the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol (of which India is a signatory) on safe handling, transport and use of living modified organisms or GMs.
There are multiple views on GM crops, with supporters stressing on the increase in yield and quality of the produce, and opponents expressing concern over risks to health, environment and small producers.