• Open Access

Regulatory options for genetically modified crops in India

Authors

  • Bhagirath Choudhary,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Molecular Biotechnology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
    2. Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB/Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
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  • Godelieve Gheysen,

    1. Department of Molecular Biotechnology, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
    2. Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB/Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
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  • Jeroen Buysse,

    1. Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
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  • Piet van der Meer,

    1. Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB/Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
    2. Department of International Public Law, Faculty of Law, Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
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  • Sylvia Burssens

    1. Institute of Plant Biotechnology Outreach, VIB/Ghent University, Gent, Belgium
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Summary

The introduction of semi-dwarfing, high-yielding and nutrients-responsive crop varieties in the 1960s and 1970s alleviated the suffering of low crop yield, food shortages and epidemics of famine in India and other parts of the Asian continent. Two semi-dwarfing genes, Rht in wheat and Sd-1 in rice heralded the green revolution for which Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. In contrast, the revolutionary new genetics of crop improvement shamble over formidable obstacles of regulatory delays, political interferences and public misconceptions. India benefited immensely from the green revolution and is now grappling to deal with the nuances of GM crops. The development of GM mustard discontinued prematurely in 2001 and insect-resistant Bt cotton varieties were successfully approved for commercial cultivation in 2002 in an evolving nature of regulatory system. However, the moratorium on Bt brinjal by MOEF in 2010 meant a considerable detour from an objective, science-based, rigorous institutional process of regulatory approval to a more subjective, nonscience-driven, political decision-making process. This study examines what ails the regulatory system of GM crops in India and the steps that led to the regulatory logjam. Responding to the growing challenges and impediments of existing biosafety regulation, it suggests options that are critical for GM crops to take roots for a multiplier harvest.

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