12,106.90-62.95
Stock Analysis, IPO, Mutual Funds, Bonds & More

Government will continue to back GM research: DBT secretary

Gene-editing policy for medical, agricultural purpose is also under consideration: DBT secretary Renu Swarup

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jul 24, 2019, 12.17 PM IST
0Comments
BCCL
Untitled design (13)
Mumbai: The government will continue to support research in genetic engineering and modification in the country even as debate rages over the use of Genetically Modified (GM) seeds.

“We are supporting (GM) research, we are supporting scientists who are working on developing platforms for it,” Renu Swarup, secretary at the biotechnology department (DBT), told ET.

The department is also considering a gene-editing policy that would provide a regulatory pathway for gene editing for medical and agricultural purposes.

An expert group is looking at what will be regulatory requirement for using new genetic tech like CRISPRCas9 gene editing system, Swarup said.

“Gene editing, per say, will not become genetic engineering,” she said. There are components that are normal conventional mutations, which get edited because of mutations aspect. “So, we are spelling these things out clearly.”

The DBT secretary’s statement comes at a time when several groups debate introducing GM technology in agriculture in India. Both pro-GM farmers and anti-GM activists have blamed the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) — which is responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials — for inaction.

During the cotton sowing season this year, several farmers in Maharashtra and Gujarat resorted to growing the new versions of herbicide tolerant BT Cotton, a GMO seed, in protest against the regulator’s inaction in giving approvals to the new variants of BT cotton. In Haryana, a farmer was found cultivating BT brinjal illegally in his farm.

These illegal cultivations have highlighted the complex side of the GMO debate in the country.

GEAC comes under the environment, forest and climate change ministry, but it’s cochaired by a representative from DBT, which is under the science and technology ministry.

Swarup, who holds a doctorate in genetics and plant breeding, is of the view that too much attention has been given to the GM debate, which has taken the focus away from other emerging agritech.

“Because one technology is not being able to reach to the commercial level because of whatever commercial matters or policy matters taken, we cannot ignore the other technology that is being used,” she said. DBT has introduced marker-resistance selection in seeds — a form of antibiotic for plants to resist worm infection — and speed breeding — a technique that hastens development of new crop. It has also introduced nutrient-rich varieties of rice, wheat and maize, and disease-resistant and climate-resistant varieties of seeds.

Also Read

Tesla's market value zooms past that of GM and Ford - combined

Board Meetings Today: GM Breweries, Coastal Corporation and Modison Metals

Assam govt to gift 10 gm of gold to every bride

Cheers to the tycoons: Ratan Tata, GM Rao conferred with honorary doctorates

Farmer unions demand that GM event developer be made legally liable for illegal GM crop cultivation

Comments
Add Your Comments
Commenting feature is disabled in your country/region.

Other useful Links


Copyright © 2020 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service