21 new varities of genetically modified (GM) crops such as rice, wheat, maize and cotton have been approved for field trials by the Narendra Modi government, say reports. According to these reports, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) — consisting mostly of bio-technology supporters — rejected just one out of the 28 proposals up for consideration. Six proposals were rejected for want of more information.
The move comes while the Supreme Court is in deliberation on the safety of GM crops.
GM crops is a contentious issue in the nation as it faces opposition from activists who say it is dangerous for the environment and the health of its citizens.
While backers say the high yielding GM crops can address hunger issues and also bring down prices of food and commodities.
The issue is also a political one with the BJP supporting growing GM food whilst the Congress opposing it. The then environment minister Jairam Ramesh had rejected a move to grow BT brinjals in 2010, with the BJP calling it a ‘wrong’ decision.
Only Bt Cotton is allowed to be commercially grown in India till now.