SC permits conditional field trials of GM crops

the Supreme Court has permitted conditional field trials of genetically modified (gm) crops approved by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (geac) in 2006. The anti-gm lobby in India, however, says it is not possible to implement the conditions. But the government says that biosafety protocols will be firmly adhered to when the trials for bt cotton take place this season.

On May 8, 2007, a three-member bench headed by chief justice K G Balakrishnan asked the government to ensure that gm crop fields are at least 200 metres away from non-gm crop fields.Also, a lead scientist will have to oversee that non-gm crop fields are not contaminated with pollen from gm crops, with permissible contamination not exceeding 0.01 per cent. geac will have to report any toxic and allergic reactions to the court.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Aruna Rodrigues, P V Satheesh and others, calling for a moratorium on gm crops on grounds that they posed health and environmental hazards. The riders tagged by the apex court are