GM crop field trials cleared in India despite government official’s reservations

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan of Maharashtra has cleared “no objection certificates” for confined field trials of several genetically modified crops, overruling the reservations of Agricultural Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.

The confined field trials of GM varieties of rice, wheat, corn, eggplant and cotton will be under strict supervision to reduce the impact on local varieties.

Vikhe Patil wanted a public hearing to be held before the NOCs were cleared, as he is wary of GM crops after a previous experiment with Bt cotton. According to Vikhe Patil, the Bt cotton field trial was a “disaster” and it “impacted local cotton varieties.” The Union Environment Ministry has asked for a stay on field trials of GM crops until the Supreme Court rules on a public interest litigation opposing GM crops.

Before the confined field trials can begin in Maharashtra, a final clearance will have to be sought from the Ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee.

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