A body of activists against genetically modified (GM) crops today asked the country's biotech regulator GEAC to take the review of environmental release of GM mustard, assigned to it by the government, scientifically and with utmost "seriousness".
In a letter to the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the Coalition for a GM-Free India claimed that the GEAC went about "re-examination" of its decision for commercial release of GM mustard in a completely "facetious and non-serious way".
The GEAC had recommend the commercial use of genetically modified mustard in a submission to the Environment Ministry last year. However, amid protest, the government referred the issue of commercial release of GM mustard back to the GEAC after receiving representations from various stakeholders.
In the letter, the coalition said the minutes of the 134th meeting of GEAC was uploaded yesterday.
"It is seen that GEAC decided that the 'applicant may be advised to undertake field demonstration on GM mustard in an area of five acres at two-three different locations with a view to generate additional data on honey bees and other pollinators and honey, and on soil microbial diversity'," the coalition said.
It said this decision of GEAC was an "extremely inadequate" in relation to the decision that the government was supposed to have taken, and the fact that GEAC was therefore asked to re-examine the issue of its clearance.
"In fact, the government and GEAC have committed to the nation that there would be a review, and now GEAC is obligated to begin by first stating what its scientific review plan is, and not just have a 13-member meeting in which the review is degenerated to some minor decisions being reiterated," it said.
The coalition in its letter, which was also marked to Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and Congress leader Renuka Chowdhury, said that it was apparent that GEAC went about the "re-examination" of the environmental release application of GM mustard in a completely "facetious and non-serious way", as reflected in the minutes of the 134th meeting minutes and had not taken up any serious review of the entire matter.
It said a glib conclusion that GEAC examined all the representations and reiterated that these representations had already been deliberated extensively while taking the decision in the 133rd meeting of GEAC was "untrue".
"It is important that GEAC should improve its credibility by not failing the nation once again. You are not addressing critical issues being raised, and therefore, just asking the applicant to undertake a field demonstration for data generation on three parameters is inadequate and objectionable." it said.
"While the major issues with regard to GM mustard remain unaddressed, the latest decision of GEAC on the applicant having to 'undertake field demonstration' in an area of five acres at two-three different locations is a matter of concern.
"What is 'field demonstration' in regulatory parlance? Where is it present in the guidelines? Why only three parameters?" it asked in the letter.
"We would like to reiterate that GEAC must take the review assigned to it by the government in the case of GM mustard with utmost seriousness and scientificity," the coalition said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)