Need for an All India co-ordinated project for assessment of GM crop field trials

Chennai, March 1, 2015: The question of permitting scientists to undertake field trials with GM varieties and crops has been a matter of controversy, although field trials are absolutely essential to assess risks and benefits. The Maharashtra Govt has now given permission to seed firms to begin field trials with GM varieties of rice, corn, chickpea and cotton. Probably other states may also take similar action. In this context, the proposal I made 10 years ago that ICAR should organise an All India Coordinated Project for the field testing of GM crop in the farms of Agriculture Universities with appropriate precautions is worthy of implementation. This will provide a uniform method of assessment in Farm university control land fields. Also, the Project Coordinator should be a biosafety expert, so that the field trials can be assessed from the point of view of biosafety in addition to agricultural utility. Sooner this is done, the greater will be the public confidence in the procedures adopted for assessing risks and benefits.