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Genetically Modified (GM) Food Crop

Context:

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Union Environment Ministry has approved seed production “prior to commercial release” of India’s first indigenously developed transgenic hybrid mustard. It opens up possibilities for India’s first genetically modified (GM) food crop by farmers.

Relevance:

GS-3 Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Key Points
  2. What are GM Crops?
  3. Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee:

Key Points:

  • The country’s regulator for GM organisms, at its meeting on October 18, recommended the “environmental release” of the transgenic mustard hybrid DMH-11, developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the statutory committee constituted under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • As per the ‘’Rules 1989’’, State/UT Biotechnology Coordination Committees and District Level Committees are responsible for monitoring instances of illegal cultivation of GM crops and taking appropriate action under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • The Chief Secretary of State/UT is the Chairperson for the State Biotechnology Coordination Committee (SBCC). Any complaints that come to the notice of GEAC secretariat are sent to the Chief Secretary.
  • For the consideration of any application related to confined field trials of Genetically Modified (GM) crops by GEAC, NOC from the State/UT Government is required.

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.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee:

  • 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.

-Source: The Indian Express


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