In a far reaching move, the Central government has for the first time issued an order exempting certain types of genome edited crops from the stringent regulations applicable on genetically modified or GM crops thus giving a big boost to their further research and development.
The ministry of environment and forest in an order issued today exempted SDN1 and SDN2 genome edited plants from Rules 7-11 of the Environment Protect Act (EPA) for manufacture, use or import or export and storage of hazardous microorganisms or genetically engineered organisms or cells rules-1989.
“The notification would pave a path for the government to approve and notify the guidelines on genome edited plants pending since early 2020,” Bhagirath Choudhary, Founder Director of the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) said.
In the recent past, many countries have either developed or approved for commercial cultivation of vegetables, fruits, oilseeds and cereals developed through genome editing such as Gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA tomato, high oleic canola and soybean, non-browning mushroom etc.
Recently, China too approved guidelines for genome editing that will spur research into crops that have high yields and are resistant to pests and climate change.
Genome editing or gene editing was discovered back in 2012, but Indian regulators took nearly a decade to comprehend its potential for developing crops resistant to biotic and abiotic stresses and with nutritional superiority.
“The current notification exempting some categories of genome-edited plants from cumbersome regulations will incentivize breeders and researchers to harness the power of genome editing for the welfare of the farming community,” Choudhury of SBAC said.