It seems the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had made up its mind on withholding all field trials of genetically modified crops even before the court-appointed Technical Experts Committee (TEC) last week recommended an indefinite moratorium. The six-member panel has asked to wait till a bio-safety mechanism is in place.
Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan is learnt to have written to the Prime Minister in March 2013 that field trials of GM crops in current situation is not feasible. Incidentally,Natarajans stand came soon after the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) met in March 2013 clearing field trials of GM rice,wheat,maize and castor besides the cotton varieties.
However,the MoEF felt that since the issue is pending before SC,it was not proper to allow field trials. The ministry had even pulled off the GEAC minutes from its website. The ministry is yet to schedule another GEAC meeting. As many as 91 applications for field trial are pending before the GEAC,of which 44 are GM food crops. The Agriculture Ministry,on the other hand,has been strongly advocating GM crops.