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Chief Ministers’ Panel on Agriculture, states talk genetically modified crops in ‘restricted spaces’

Panel to make changes in Essential Commodities Act to remove stock limits.

ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Aug 17, 2019, 11.10 AM IST
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis
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MUMBAI: The Chief Ministers’ Panel on Agriculture is deliberating with other state governments on whether to permit genetically modified (GM) crops in the country ‘in restricted spaces’. The contentious move may take time as some state governments have opposed the introduction of GM crops. The panel has, however, decided to make substantial changes to the Essential Commodities Act to remove stock limits.

“Our oil seeds productivity is less, we are looking at new technology on seeds. The issue of use of GM crops is a very debated issue. We are dependent for oilseeds that we import from other countries, these countries use GM technology. We today discussed the issue to build a consensus on the use or not to use of GM crops in restricted and specific areas,” said Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis who is a convenor of the high-powered committee of the Chief Ministers’ panel on Agriculture reforms.

Elaborating further he said, “GM Crop to use or not first we have to have a certification (standards). I can’t decide as an expert whether it is good or bad. If as per our country’s regulations, they are certified then it can be used else it shouldn’t be.” Fadnavis said this after a meeting of the high-powered committee meeting in Mumbai on Friday.

The chief minister said that the panel has decided to bring in major changes in the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) to remove the stock limits to ensure that a rise in crop prices is not stymied by the imposition of ECA.

“Whenever prices go up, state governments impose ECA will, so there were views on whether ECA is need today. The panel was of the view that ECA was needed however the provisions concerning agriculture needed to be changed to ensure farmers can earn profits without ECA where in states imposed stock limits, these brought down prices of agri products hurting the farmers income,”said Fadnavis.

According to the Maharashtra CM the new view that the Chief Ministers’ Panel is veering to is that ECA on agri products should only be imposed if prices of these goods shoot astronomically. “We need the law because if there are extraordinary circumstances and prices go up substantially then we need a law to bring it down.” The Niti Aayog on Friday has given a proposal to the states that unless there is a drought or natural calamity states should not levy ECA on Agri goods.
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