July 29, 2011


Bureaucracy to delay India's GM crop trials 



Development of genetically modified (GM) crops in India will likely get delayed due to the stipulation for provincial-level clearance for field trials, the head of a group of biotechnology companies said.


India's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee on July 6 ruled that no-objection certificates from provincial governments will be necessary to start field trials. Some states had complained about allowing field trials in their territory without seeking approvals from local governments.


Researchers earlier needed to get approval only from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, a federal agency, to start trials.


"Very few trials will take place because of this order," said Ram Kaundinya, chairman of the Association of Biotech Led Enterprises - Agriculture Group.


The group clubs major biotech companies in India for talks with the government, research institutions and other bodies.


Kaundinya said development of as many as 10 GM crops, including rice, corn, groundnut, tomatoes and cauliflowers, will be hit by the order as they were in various stages of field trials, after obtaining clearance from the federal committee.


"Some of the GM crops were in the second year of trials and some in their first," he said. "A delay of even five days during the planting season can actually result in a delay of a year."


He said the association's representatives have met the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee and the agriculture ministry, and that they will also meet all state governments to discuss the issue.


"Some states are positively inclined, such as Andhra Pradesh," he said, adding that the government in the southern state is holding weekly meetings for field-trial clearances. "Some states are negative about the whole thing. We are talking and trying to convince them."

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