Source: The Hindu Businessline

K. V. Kurmanath Hyderabad, Aug 22

The debate on GM crops in India continues. A group of scientists from India and abroad have made an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking it not to accept the recommendations of the five-member Technical Expert Committee (TEC).

They have termed the TEC recommendations as prejudiced and alleged that they considered information from sources that supported its point of view. TEC has called for a halt on GM field trials in the country till the regulatory issues are addressed. The scientific community is divided over the issue, putting forth their voices for and against the TEC recommendations.

Safety & utility

In an appeal to the apex court, the pro-GM scientists argue that the TEC suggestion goes against the established mainstream science on GM crops’ safety and utility. “It is surprising that in spite of endorsement from leading scientific bodies and academies of the world and regulatory agencies, the TEC has submitted a highly prejudiced report,” they said.

“The five members have completely overlooked the overwhelming scientific literature that clearly establishes the safety and utility of GM crops under the field conditions. It is tragic that the TEC has completely lost scientific objectivity by drawing heavily from the discarded international agricultural assessment (IAASTD) that has not been accepted by even a single country in the world,” they argued.

IAASTD report

They cited Nature’s (the science journal) editorial that observed that the IAASTD report was completely bereft of any objective science. “The TEC has chosen to mischievously mislead the court on GM crops. The committee has deliberately overlooked the opinions of leading scientific organisations in the world and in India, and hundreds of peer reviewed scientific publications.” Shanthu Shantharam, Biosafety Institute of the Iowa State University, said in the appeal.

G. Padmanabhan, former Director of the Indian Institute of Science, felt that the report lacked scientific objectivity and criticised its recommendation that India should learn from the Norwegian GenOak laboratory.  “Norway has very little dependence on agriculture and the protocols are only meant to tie up GM crops in regulatory knots for indefinite period of time without any scientific basis, which the anti-GM lobby wants,” he said.

(Source: The Hindu Businessline)