IAAG expresses serious concern on the delay in draft guidelines for genome-edited plants
In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the IAAG International has expressed its serious concerns on the “inordinate delay” in the approval of the “Draft Guidelines for Safety Assessment of Genome/Gene-edited Plants” by the regulatory body Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
In an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the India Agricultural Advancement Group (IAAG) International has expressed its serious concerns on the “inordinate delay” in the approval of the “Draft Guidelines for Safety Assessment of Genome/Gene-edited Plants” by the regulatory body Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
IAAG is a group of scientists and agricultural specialists of Indian origin living across the globe who have deep interest in India’s agricultural development.
Dr Gurdev S Khush, Dr RS Paroda, Dr RB Singh, Dr KL Chadha and Dr G Padmanabhan are among the 22 signatories to this letter from IAAG.
IAAG seems to be irked that “rather than taking the final decision strictly on scientific merit of the submission”, the GEAC has sent the Draft Guidelines, after a delay of more than one year, to the states and Union territories (UTs), seeking their comments on the exemption of biosafety trials stipulated for the genetically modified (GM) crops for the SDN1 and SDN2 categories of genome-edited plants.
The two categories, the letter says, do not contain any foreign DNA when they are taken to the open field trials. Many countries have already taken the decision to consider SDN1 and SDN2 products like those developed through conventional breeding and mutation breeding. They are, thus, safe for human health.
IAAG feels that the MoEF&CC’s communication to the states and UTs for their comments on a purely scientific matter is “uncalled for” and “likely to create confusion on the matter”.
Seeking comments from the States/UTs, before GEAC and MoEF&CC have taken a view and a decision, “has created a wrong precedence and would only lead to further delay,” says the letter.
IAAG, therefore, strongly urges the Prime Minister to advise MoEF&CC and the Ministry of Science and Technology to deliberate and approve, without any further delay, the Draft Guidelines formulated by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with valuable inputs from the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS).
Besides, the Draft Guidelines have been reviewed by an expert committee constituted by the DBT and subsequently endorsed by the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) before these were forwarded to GEAC for approval.
The IAAG letter concludes that sufficient scientific rigour has been applied to the formulation and endorsement of these guidelines. Any further delay will be detrimental to the nation’s agricultural interests and not in keeping with the scientific tradition of the Green, White and Blue revolutions.