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In a landmark recommendation, an Indian Supreme Court-appointed committee has called for a halt on all further genetically modified (GM) crop trials until flaws in regulatory and safety systems are addressed.
As reported on AllAboutFeed.com:
"Based on the examination of the safety dossiers, the Technical Expert Committee has found in unambiguous terms that at present, the regulatory system has major gaps and these will require rethinking, investment and relearning to fix. These need to be addressed before issues related to tests can be meaningfully considered. Till such time, it would not be advisable to conduct more field trials. A deeper understanding of the process of risk assessment is needed within the regulatory system for it to meet the needs of a proper bio-safety evaluation," the final report states.[emphasis added]
The EconomicTimes.com reported, "The technical expert committee (TEC) consisting of experts in the fields of molecular biology, toxicology, nutrition science, biodiversity and agriculture science highlights the inherent problems with GM crops and recommends a cautious approach towards them being approved in the country."
According to The Economic Times, the TEC stated in their report,"[T]here should be a moratorium on field trials for Bt in food crops (those that are directly used for food) intended for commercialisation (not research) until there is more definitive information from sufficient number of studies as to the long term safety of Bt in food crops."
These developments will have widespread implications for the commercialization of GM crops in India. Large biotech corporations are already believed to be colluding with government officials and Indian businesses in the illegal dissemination of unapproved GM seeds, indicating the regulatory controls are either way too lax, or entirely absent.
This new development may mark a major pushback reminiscent of the European Union's hard line GM regulatory stance and recent successes in ousting GM seeds produced by Monsanto. Last year, we reported on India signaling it is rearing to oust companies like Monsanto, after an Indian high-profile parliamentary panel recommended that GM crop "field trails under any garb should be discontinued forthwith." India has a long history of being oppressed by the forces of Western imperialism, and is deeply suspicious of biotechnology corporations using the food supply to exert the same type of control.
At present, there are 91 applications for field trials pending approval, 44 of which are GM food crops. Many of these are so-called Roundup Ready or herbicide tolerant (HT) crops using Bt technology, which the expert committee has stated will not receive approval until regulatory gaps are addressed and closed.