Kakodkar panel to study effects of GM crop field trials

In a possible attempt to push field trials of genetically modified crops, the state government has decided to set up an advisory committee headed by scientist Anil Kakodkar.

This, after recently issuing a show-cause notice to a GM seed supplier for inferior quality. The 10-member panel will consider proposals from companies who want to conduct such tests.

"The committee is expected to give a detailed opinion explaining effect of the trials on environment, humans, animals and bio-diversity," deputy secretary in department of agriculture R B Ghadge said.

The state will allow the trials only after receiving a report from the committee. GM crops have been a tricky issue with certain sections demanding a ban on trials after the Bt Cotton experience.

Bt Cotton crop, said to be pest-resistant, failed in large parts, triggering a spate of suicides in the country, particularly in Vidarbha region of the state.

Anti-GM crop activists say it is an attempt by multinationals to control the Indian agricultural market. Supporters, including agriculture minster Sharad Pawar, claim the crop is necessary for national food and nutritional security.

Opposition from various quarters forced Government of India to backtrack after initially allowing field tests and rule that companies wanting to conduct trials should get NOCs from state governments.

Eager seed-makers will now have to submit proposals to the Kakodkar committee for tests in Maharashtra.

Modified stand

State sets up 10-member committee under scientist Anil Kakodkar to evaluate impact of GM crop field tests

Seed companies will get NOC only after a favourable report from the committee

Several companies are looking to conduct GM corn and rice field tests in Maharashtra as other states such as Kerala have banned trials

Maharashtra is still to formalise strategy on GM crops

On one hand it has taken GM seed manufacturers to task over quality and on the other, it is also seeking to allow field tests

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