Why in news?
Area, production and productivity of Bt. cotton has increased steadily since its introduction in India, barring minor fluctuation in few years
Most of the countries are signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Bio-safety which has well defined mechanism of regulation of Genetically Modified (GM) crops including bio-safety evaluation and environmental release.
Bt. cotton is the only GM crop approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) which works under MOEFC.
What are GM Crops?
- Genetically modified crops (GM crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering techniques. More than 10% of the world’s crop lands are planted with GM crops.
- In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species like resistance to certain pests, diseases, environmental conditions, herbicides etc.
- Genetic Modification is also done to increase nutritional value, bioremediation and for other purposes like production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels etc.
Regulating Bodies concerned with GM Crops
The top biotech regulator in India is Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).
The committee functions as a statutory body under the Environment Protection Act 1986 of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF).
GEAC is responsible for granting permits to conduct experimental and large-scale open field trials and also grant approval for commercial release of biotech crops.
The Rules of 1989 also define five competent authorities i.e.,
- The Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBSC),
- Review Committee of Genetic Manipulation (RCGM),
- Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC),
- State Biotechnology Coordination Committee (SBCC) and
- District Level Committee (DLC)
for handling of various aspects of the rules.
- The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity is an international agreement on biosafety as a supplement to the Convention on Biological Diversity effective since 2003.
- The Biosafety Protocol seeks to protect biological diversity from the potential risks posed by genetically modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology.