Centre last word on GM crops; nod for "confined" field trial

Though Maharashtra government has given 'no objection certificate' for field trials of some genetically modified (GM) crops, the Centre will take a final call on whether to allow such crops in the market or not, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said.

Anil Kakodkar, who headed a state-level committee which recommended field trials of GM crops, has also said that
clearance has been given for "confined field trials," and it is the prerogative of the central government to approve or disapprove the use of GM crops, based on trial results.

The state government recently gave NOC for field trials of five GM crops - brinjal, maize, rice, chickpea and cotton - while taking cognisance of recommendations submitted by the committee which studied individual crop patterns.

"We have given NOC only for field trials. Based on its results, the central government will decide whether to allow
them (GM crops) to be brought into the market or not," Fadnavis told PTI.

Asked about opposition to such trials earlier by RSS' economic wing Swadeshi Jagran Manch, he declined to comment. "The clearance has been given for confined field trials so that everything remains secure. There is a central
government process for looking at it in detail through Genetic Engineering Advisory Committee and environment and forest ministers, etc. For them to complete their approvals, they need to have a NOC from the state government," Kakodkar said.

"In the state, there are committees at the state and district levels. Also, there is an advisory group which looks
at the technical aspects and makes recommendations to the state government. Only then the state government issues the
NOC. It is still in the domain of development with all precautions in place," he said.

"If positive results emerge from the trials, then it (report) will go back to the government, and they will look at
the results and take into consideration the additional benefits. Based on that, they would decide whether to approve
or not to approve its (GM crops) use," said the former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission.

Besides Maharashtra, other states like Punjab, Haryana,Delhi and Andhra Pradesh have also given NOCs for field trials of some biotech crops, while Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan have banned such research activities.

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