P. T. JYOTHI DATTA
More than 100 applications pile-up
Over the last few months, there has been a pile-up of more than 100 applications seeking regulatory approvals to conduct field-trials of genetically-modified (GM) crops.
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) had, in June, directed industry applicants to get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from respective State Governments before undertaking open field trials.
Companies are mandated to conduct field-trials before they get final approvals to market their biotech agri-product locally.
With several States taking time to give an NOC, there has been a pile-up of over 100 applications at State Agriculture Ministries, said Mr V.R. Kaundinya, Chairman of the Association of Biotech Led Enterprises – Agriculture Group (ABLE-AG).
There have been a few approvals from States such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Haryana, but others like Karnataka and Bihar have indicated they would not give approvals, he told Business Line.
Other States where companies have applied for field trials and are awaiting approvals include Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.
In fact, the agri-biotech industry has sought a meeting with the new Environment Minister, Ms Jayanthi Natrajan, seeking clarity on this and other issues facing the industry.
Timely approvals are necessary “to generate reliable data about the efficacy, safety and agronomic performance of the product without losing one year”, the Association had said, in an earlier letter to former Environment Minister, Mr Jairam Ramesh.
The Government needs to spell out clearly its position on GM products, instead of changing the eligibility criteria after agri-companies have invested in research and field-trials, says an industry representative, concerned about the delay.
Mr Kaundinya said the delays hurt domestic companies more, as they do not have deep pockets like the multinationals. The delay also upsets the company’s cycle for an entire year, as the seed company would have missed the kharif period (in the monsoons), he added.
The applications for both kharif and rabi (winter) season trials were for maize, cotton, and rice made by companies including Monsanto, Syngenta, Pioneer Overseas Corporation, Bayer and Dow AgroSciences.