Published on March 11, 2014
GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India Dr. D Dhanuraj Chairman, CPPR
India in the globe • 2.3% of Global Land • 4.2% of Water Resources • 16.8% of Population GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 2
Agriculture in India • 60% of population’s occupation • Contributes 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) • Second highest producer of Wheat and Rice • Highest producer of many fruits • Around 25 million hectares of land in the country has low productivity of less than 1 tonne/hectare due to deficiencies and toxicities of nutrients GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 3
Future of Agriculture in India • Studies show 40% farmers would switch over to another job. • NSS report shows number of total agriculture workers went down from 40.03 million in 2004-05 to 36.9 million in 2009-10 and 35.4 million in 2011-12 GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 4
Issues in Agriculture • The present cropping intensity of 136% has registered increase of only 25% since Independence. Rain-fed dry land constitutes 65% of the total net sown area. There is also an unprecedented degradation of land (107 million hectare) and groundwater resource, and also fall in growth rate of total factor productivity. GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 5
GM Crops in India • Bt Cotton • Bt Brinjal GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 6
Bt Cotton • Cultivation of Bt Cotton was allowed in 2002. – India has become a net exporter of Cotton in the last one decade – 90% of total cotton cultivation area is covered by Bt Cotton – Yield is more than 80% compared to non-Bt Cotton. – More than 600 hybrid seeds are in circulation now GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 7
Bt Cotton production in India over the years
Protests • Three public interest litigations (PILs) have been filed since 2002 – Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology headed by environmentalist Vandana Shiva, – in 2004 by Suman Sahai's Gene Campaign – in 2006 by a group of food and environmental activists led by Aruna Rodrigues. GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 11
Milestones • India is a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) since 2003 • India's apex biotech regulatory committee, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) that functions as a statutory body under the Environment Protection Act 1986 of the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), has been changed to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee on July 22, 2010 GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 12
GEAC – GEAC comprised almost 30 members including independent experts, representatives from India’s premier science and biotechnology bodies such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, ICAR, department of biotechnology, officials from the directorate of plant protection, quarantine & storage and the department of industrial policy and promotion – But currently, the role of GEAC has been taken up by other committees which are not representative GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 13
Milestones Technical Expert Committee (TEC) set up by the Supreme Court has in their final report submitted on 30 June 2013,pointed to the scientific evidences for adverse impacts of GM crops and the inefficiencies in the current regulatory system GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 14 Put on hold the clearances of open GM field trials for cotton, rice, maize and wheat given by the GEAC Moratorium on Bt Brinjal was announced in 2010.
Milestones • GEAC’s year-old decision to permit field trials of crops such as rice, wheat and maize has been approved – February 27, 2014 • Next meeting scheduled on 21st March 2014 GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 15
Recent Developments • Mark Lynas, proponent for transgenics, may have flamboyantly declared that the debate on genetically modified (GM) crops is over but he has actually re- ignited the debate, through his supposed conversion from an anti-GM activism is two years old • National Biotechnology Regulatory bill (2008) which was renamed as Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India bill (2009) — to bulldoze dissent against GM Crops was proposed • Tabled on April 22nd 2013 • Still pending in Parliament GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 16
Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill • The TEC recommends that the regulatory body be located in the MoEF and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. The BRAI under the MoST will clearly result in a conflict of interest. • ‘Polluters pay principle’ • ‘Absolute liability’ • ‘Precautionary Principle’ • Role of State Governments and PRI institutions • Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India: “The BRAI Bill is a blatant attempt to bulldoze through the public resistance and genuine concerns about genetically modified crops, and to deny state governments their constitutional authority over Agriculture and Health,” GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 17
BRAI • Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture – consulted all stakeholders and – examined the BRAI Bill against the standard regulatory frameworks elsewhere in the world. • It observed that "regulating biotechnology is too small a focus in the vast canvas of biodiversity, environment, human and livestock health, etc and a multitude of other such related issues". GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 18
Global Scene • In 2012, 170 million hectares of land, around 12% of the global arable land, was planted with GM crops of soybean, corn, cotton and canola in 28 countries. • United States of America planted the largest area, 69.5 million hectares, while Brazil showed highest increase in area planted with biotech crops (6.3 million hectares). India planted 10.8 million hectares of Bt cotton and the farm income from 2002 to 2011 was 12.6 billion dollars GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 19
GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 20
Stake involved in India • Largest biotech research programme in the developing world with as many 14 public sector laboratories carrying out research on virtually every crop from groundnuts and beans to melons and cauliflower. It's part of a long-term strategy to generate employment of one million and revenues of $5 billion from the biotechnology sector) • Lack of a policy on genetic engineering in crops for which India is a centre of origin. The list starts with rice and includes legumes (moong and urad), vegetables (eggplant, okra, bottle gourd) and fruits (mango, melons). GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 21
Arguments against GM crops • “science-based agro-ecological methods are participatory in nature and designed to fit within the dynamics underpinning the multifunctional role of agriculture in producing food, enhancing biodiversity and ecosystem services, and providing security to communities” – ‘Late Lessons from Early Warnings: Science, Precaution, Innovation’ published by European Environmental Agency • “might result in unintended phenotypic changes” • Resistance to pesticides, insecticides and herbicides • Why most countries do not allow GM varieties of crops to which they are centres of origin: Mexico for corn, China for soyabean, Peru for potato, etc. GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 22
GM crops • GM crops have erroneously been listed among the hazardous substances under the Environment Protection Act, 1986, thereby projecting them as inherently harmful. • This creates unwarranted misperceptions about these crops and raises misgivings over their safety for health and environment. • The rules framed under the environment law are enforced through an administrative order without any legislative sanction. • This leaves them open to change at any time. • This weak point allowed the Ministry to take over GM crop approval authority, overrule the permission granted to Bt Brinjal by the GEAC, and put an indefinite pause on field trials of GM crops. GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 23
Policy Issues • A glaring dichotomy between the powers of the Centre and states over regulating GM crops and permitting their experimentation or cultivation in open fields. • While the regulatory mechanism is under the control of the Union environment ministry, the broad field of agriculture is a state subject. This leads to Centre-state conflicts in decision- making. GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 24
Policy Issues 1. A blanket ban of 10 years on field trials of transgenic food crops; 2. A blanket ban on field trials of transgenic varieties of those crops for which India is a centre of origin or diversity; and 3. its presumption of a conflict of interest between regulatory and developmental roles. • Indian companies (Public sector) Vs Multinationals - GM mustard hybrid from Delhi University’s Department of Genetics and a late blight disease- resistant potato developed by the Central Potato Research Institute near Shimla GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 25
Other Issues and Challenges • Inability, incapability and unpreparedness of the Indian GM research establishment and the incompetency of our regulator to deal with this unpredictable and uncontrollable technology. • Contamination from GM crops is inevitable and that our regulator does not have the capacity to deal with it. GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 26
Suggestion • A new Authority that is immune to political interventions or external pressures. Besides, the system should be competent and fully authorized to take unbiased and science- based decisions GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 27
Conclusion • Passage of BRAI Bill with suggested amendments. • Set up a regulator that is independent, transparent, inclusive and that protects biosafety before the environmental release of GM crops. • Leave the decision making to the scientists. GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 28
Thank you! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.cppr.in GM Crops Policies: Perspectives from India 29
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