Activists allege regulatory lapses in approving GM mustard - The Hindu

The Coalition for a GM-Free India has raised serious allegations of regulatory oversights in the approval process of genetically modified (GM) mustard. This platform, actively contesting GM trials in the Supreme Court, has released a report in New Delhi shedding light on multiple instances of perceived lapses in the assessment and endorsement of Delhi University’s GM “Herbicide Tolerant” (HT) mustard.

Voicing Apprehensions

The Coalition for a GM-Free India, a collective endeavor advocating against genetically modified organisms, has expressed deep concerns over the manner in which GM mustard’s approval process unfolded. They contend that the approval of GM “Herbicide Tolerant” mustard underscores the shortcomings in India’s existing biosafety regulations, revealing serious inadequacies in the regulatory framework.

Alleged Regulatory Shortcomings

The report by the coalition presents a meticulous compilation of approximately 15 instances that they consider as regulatory lapses. These instances span the spectrum of GM mustard’s appraisal and endorsement. From the platform’s perspective, these instances exemplify how the current regulatory regime has fallen short of ensuring comprehensive oversight and scrutiny.

Discrepancies in the Narrative

The platform vehemently disputes the official narrative that asserts the absence of regulatory lapses in the development of GM mustard. They claim that the Central government’s stance contradicts their findings, and they contend that the Supreme Court is being misled. The coalition questions the Centre’s commitment to transparently address concerns surrounding the development and approval of GM mustard.

Urgent Planting and Third Party Involvement

The coalition’s assertions extend to the hurried planting of GM mustard seeds. They bring attention to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) taking action on behalf of a third-party applicant even before a formal approval letter was issued. This move, according to them, raises serious questions about the integrity of the regulatory process and the motives behind fast-tracking the cultivation of GM mustard.

Regulatory Inclusivity

The coalition’s claims are further supported by Right to Information (RTI) responses indicating that no health experts participated in the GM mustard appraisal. This absence of key stakeholders in the regulatory discussions raises concerns about the overall comprehensiveness and inclusivity of the decision-making process.

Striving for Accountability

In sum, the Coalition for a GM-Free India’s report serves as a clarion call for greater accountability, transparency, and diligence in the regulatory oversight of genetically modified organisms. Their apprehensions highlight the importance of ensuring a robust framework that addresses the concerns of all stakeholders and guarantees a safe and informed decision-making process.

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