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2-Plants: Confederation of Indian Industry concerned at illegal use of GM cotton

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TITLE:  CII concerned at illegal use of GM cotton
SOURCE: The Times of India

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CII concerned at illegal use of GM cotton


NEW DELHI: The Confederation of Indian Industry has expressed "deep 
concern" at the illegal use of genetically-modified Bt cotton, saying GM 
crops should be tested adequately and released for commercial use only 
after all the necessary environmental conditions have been met.

In a statement, CII's national task force on biotechnology says the present 
controversy on unauthorisedly grown Bt cotton in Gujarat may have a 
"backlash" on a fledgling biotech industry trying to follow the rules.

It says "surreptitious cultivation of GM seeds by profiteers who do not 
wish to follow regulations will jeopardise the larger interests" of this 
industry, which is committed to pursuing its business in "an ethical and 
well-regulated manner".

CII, noting the "clear violation" of present regulations, says there is a 
need for reforms on this front, something it has already suggested. It 
wants the Union environment ministry's genetic engineering approval 
committee (GEAC), the sole authority for sanctioning large-scale GM crop 
trials, and other approving agencies to be given sufficient judicial powers 
to take penal action against offenders.

Among the other authorities are the Drugs and Pharma Approval Committee and 
the Biotech Foods Approval Committee.

On the commercial front, says CII, GM crops may result in higher yields  
but it is important at the same time to ensure regulations are not 
blatantly flouted. GEAC, it adds, has to be more expeditious in its time 
lines for approval of applications.

With no GM crop authorised for commercial cultivation in the country, the 
GEAC moved last month against a company which reportedly sold insect-
protected GM cotton seeds to farmers in Gujarat and other states without 
bothering about any of the mandatory permissions; the company is 
challenging the ministry's order.

Bt cotton is grown in countries such as the US, China and Australia but 
scientists insist on evaluation in Indian conditions to test efficacy as 
well as the impact on health and environment. These studies have not been 

In any case, only one firm, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), has 
been given permission to conduct large-scale trials on Bt cotton in India.

 In a recent comment on the controversy of transgenic cotton seeds in 
Gujarat, Mahyco said it conducted its own tests, found the seeds used were 
transgenic and requested the government to act against the seed company for 
its blatant contravention of the legal and regulatory processes.

Mahyco said it has worked over six years, in compliance with regulatory 
requirements, to introduce this technology here.

It has conducted over 100 field trials in different agro-climatic zones and 
done nutritional and biosafety studies with Bt cotton. Large-scale trials 
are into their second year now.


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