Fresh approvals of Bt cotton blocked in India (14/3/2007)

BT cotton cultivation unlikely this summer
ASHOK B SHARMA Financial Express, March 15 2007

NEW DELHI, MAR14: The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) which met on Wednesday withheld any fresh approval of bt cotton for commercial cultivation in the ensuing summer season.

About 11 BT cotton hybrids with CRY 1 AC gene expression, 5 BT cotton hybrids expressing stacked genes and one bt cotton hybrid expressing CRY1 AC event 1 was on the agenda for approval for commercial cultivation. All these hybrids have gone through the requisite processes of field trials. "We did not approve any new BT cotton hybrids for commercial cultivation as the matter is subjudiced in the Supreme Court," said a senior GEAC official.

The GEAC is awaiting further orders from the apex court, which in response to a PIL filed by Aruna Rodrigues and other, had directed not to accord any fresh approval for field trials of any genetically modified (GM) crop, till the pendency of the case. However, the apex court made an exception for the field trials of GM mustard. The Supreme Court is slated to hear the case again on April 16.

However, in its last meeting on February 14, 2007, the GEAC had given its approval for renewal of its permission for commercial cultivation of 8 BT cotton hybrids for three years.

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