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GM body flouting law, says official report (9/4/2007)

NOTE: The Planning Commission is an official body established by the Government of India and chaired by the Indian Prime Minister himself.

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GM body flouting law: Plan panel
Nitin Sethi
The Times of India, 8 April 2007
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/NEWS/India/GM_body_flouting_law_Plan_panel/articleshow/1876158.cms

NEW DELHI: The genetic engineering approval committee or GEAC [India's apex GM regulatory body], is flagrantly disregarding the law, says a Planning Commission taskforce report submitted recently as a precursor to the 11th Five-Year Plan. The report has questioned the safety levels being used to regulate GM technology in India.

This is the second scathing report from a Planning Commission taskforce, which has created quite a stir by raking up serious concerns about the functioning of the environment ministry. The ministry, irked at the report, has written back to the Plan panel saying that it had not been consulted during the writing of the report. However, the authors of the report rebutted the accusations by presenting evidence that the ministry had chosen not to present its data before the taskforce even when directly asked to.

The report rips through the functioning of the GEAC. "The failure of the GEAC to control the situation even many years down the line does not inspire confidence in its capabilities. The fact that it authorised commercial cultivation of Monsanto's Bt cotton even when there was no state or district level committee to oversee and monitor its release and cultivation did stir several controversies," says the taskforce.

The report hit out at the capability of the committee, stating that "at present, members of the GEAC are not qualified to understand the process of bio-safety assessment, environment assessment or environmental impact assessment, which are central to their functioning."

nitin.sethi@timesgroup.com

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