GENET archive


REGULATION / APPROVAL: India Supreme Court allows field trials ofGM crops, poses conditions

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  SC allows field trials of GM crops
SOURCE: The Financial Express, India
DATE:   09.05.2007

SC allows field trials of GM crops

The Riders
- GM crop fields should be at least 200 metres away from normal crops fields
- A scientist should ensure non-GM crop fields weren't contaminated by
GM crops

NEW DELHI, MAY 8: The Supreme Court on Tuesday permitted field trials of
genetically modified (GM) crops approved by the Genetic Engineering
Approval Committee (GEAC) in 2006, but with riders.

A special bench consisting of Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, Justice DK
Jain and Justice Tarun Chatterjee said the GM crop fields should be at
least 200 metres away from fields with normal crops. One lead scientist
should be made responsible for the trials. The scientist, the bench
said, should ensure that non-GM crop fields were not contaminated by
pollen flow from GM crops.

The GEAC should lay down a protocol for ensuring 0.01% contamination by
GM crops, it added.

The court was hearing a writ petition filed by Aruna Rodrigues, PV
Satheesh and others, calling for a moratorium on GM crops. Their
advocate Prashant Bhushan pleaded against allowing field trials owing to
health and environmental hazards.

The government had filed an application, urging either vacation of the
ban order or its modification.

The apex court order came as a relief to the biotech industry, which had
sought lifting of the ban on fresh approvals for GM crop field trials
imposed by the court on September 22, 2006.

In another reprieve to the industry, the court allowed commercial
cultivation of Bt cotton based on four approved events - Cry 1 Ac MON
531 sourced from Monsanto, Cry 1 Ac + Cry 2 Ab MON 15985 sourced from
Monsanto, Event I sourced from IIT Kharaghpur and GFM event sourced from

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                                 PART II
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TITLE:  SC okays trial of 4 Bt cotton seeds
SOURCE: The Times of India, India
DATE:   09.05.2007

SC okays trial of 4 Bt cotton seeds

NEW DELHI: Making a tight-rope walk on the volatile issue of field
trials of genetically modified seeds, the Supreme Court on Tuesday
allowed sowing of four permitted varieties of Bt Cotton but added a slew
of riders that could lay the foundations for a stricter regime on GM seeds.

A Bench comprising CJI K G Balakrishnan and Justices Tarun Chatterjee
and D K Jain said the Centre could go ahead with field trials of Bt
Cotton approved by the statutory body in April last year, but asked it
to ensure that no new varieties were evolved in the process.

Virtually acceding to requests by counsel Prashant Bhushan and Sanjay
Parikh on behalf of petitioners seeking a stricter regime for field
trial approval and examination of the adverse effects of genetically
modified crops, the Bench asked the government to prepare toxicity and
allergenicity data of the field trials and submit them to the court.

Both the counsel had said that developed countries were not willing to
take the risk of large-scale field trials in their crop areas fearing
the unknwon adverse effects, but were forcing India to be the place
where the GM seeds could be put to field trial.

Keeping this in mind, the Bench directed the government to maintain a
distance of 200 metres from the cropping area of GM seeds and ordered
that a scientist be appointed for these trials.

Appearing for NGO 'Gene Campaign', Parikh said transparency in research
data was a must for the farmers to make an informed choice between GM
seeds and their traditional variety. The counsel said that the NGO had
been seeking data about trials of GM seeds before their approval for
commercial cultivation, but the standard reply was that as the data
sought forms part of the intellectual property of the concerned firm, it
could not be made public.

"It is shocking that information that has a bearing on public health and
safety can be kept confidential under the present rules," the NGO said
and alleged that this lack of transparency made the GM seeds regulatory
regime extremely weak and completely inadequate to protect people from
possible health hazards.

It requested the court to direct the authorities concerned to make
public all data relevant to determining environment and health safety,
including toxicity and allergenicity data, of a genetically engineered
plant variety under trial.

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                                 PART III
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TITLE:  Indian court removes curbs on field trials of GMOs
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   09.05.2007

Indian court removes curbs on field trials of GMOs

NEW DELHI - India's Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted curbs on field
trials of genetically modified (GMO) crops, provided tests are conducted
under stringent conditions to prevent contamination.

The court allowed field trials of cotton, rice, mustard, tomatoes,
potatoes, cauliflower and groundnuts.

"These trials will be conducted under stringent conditions to prevent
any contamination," a court bench said.

The court asked the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee in September
last year not to allow such tests until concerns about the impact of
GMOs on the environment and human health had been addressed.

India has so far not allowed commercial planting of any gene-modified
crops for human consumption. Cotton is the only GMO crop grown on a
commercial scale.

Environment groups say India's existing bio-safety system is flawed as
the government has not undertaken any independent field trials of its
own and instead accepted the results of industry-driven tests.

They have demanded a strict protocol to evaluate all aspects of bio-
safety before any gene-modified crop is released into the environment.

The government says the use of such crops would improve yields and check
use of insecticides.

It said over 300 proposals for use of GMOs had piled up before the
Genetic Engineering Approval Committee since the court placed curbs on
field trials last year.

"Scientific assessment and not moratorium is the answer to bio-safety
concerns," the government said in court, adding that the order had
stopped research work on the use of GMOs.

The court on Tuesday also allowed cotton producers to commercially use
four new BT cotton varieties.

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