Genetically Engineered Cotton Hybrids

The approval and implementation of biosafety research trials (BRL) for genetically engineered (GE) cotton hybrids have become a topic of controversy in various states of India. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recently held its 149th meeting, where the approvals and refusals of certain states were discussed.

State Approvals and Refusals

Out of the four states where locations for BRL trials were chosen, only Haryana has given its approval. Telangana and Gujarat have refused to grant no objection certificates (NOC) for holding the trials during the upcoming cropping season. On the other hand, Maharashtra has not yet responded to the proposal, leaving its decision pending.

During the 149th Meeting, GEAC has asked Telangana and Gujarat to provide reasons for not accepting the proposal. It also has requested Maharashtra to present its views and comments within 30 days.

BRL Trials and Districts

The proposed BRL-1 trials for GE cotton hybrids, aimed at resistance against the pink bollworm, were planned in five districts. These districts include Rangareddy in Telangana, Jalna and Akola in Maharashtra, Junagadh in Gujarat, and Hisar in Haryana. The pink bollworm is a notorious pest known for causing damage in cotton farming.

Controversial Aspects and Allegations

The Coalition for GM Free India, an organization representing various stakeholders, has accused the GEAC of coercing state governments into granting NOCs for field trials. The coalition believes that decisions are being made to pressurize the states, which undermines their capabilities.

Sensitization Workshops and Recommendations

To address concerns and promote informed decision-making, the GEAC has recommended conducting sensitization workshops or conferences with the agriculture departments of states and the central government. These workshops aim to provide insights into various aspects of genetically modified (GM) crops.

Controversy Surrounding GM Mustard Hybrid

The controversy surrounding GM crops further intensified with allegations of regulations being violated during the approval process of the GM crop Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11). The matter is currently in the Supreme Court, awaiting a bench to hear the petitions against the Centre’s approval.



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