Contact Me

 LinkedinFacebookFacebookFlickrTwitterSlideshare Google Buzz

മലയാളി വിഷന്‍

ശേഖരം

വിഭാഗങ്ങള്‍

റബ്ബര്‍ കര്‍ഷകര്‍ മാത്രമല്ല എല്ലാ ഭാരതീയരും പ്രതികരിക്കുക

Decision taken in the 104th meeting of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee
(GEAC) held on 15.11.2010.

The 104 meeting of the GEAC was held on 15.11.2010 in the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) under the chairmanship of Shri M.F. Farooqui, Additional Secretary, MoEF and Chairman, GEAC. The deliberations and decision taken in the GEAC meeting in respect of Agenda items 4 to 6 are
as follows:

…………………….

5.11 Permission to conduct Biosafety Research Level-1 (BRL-1) trial of Para Rubber Tree [Hevea brasiliensis [Wild. Ex Adr. De Juss.) Muell. Arg.] on Hb. SOD-L1 & L2 (Two transgenic events lines)] by Rubber Research Institute of India, Kottayam.

5.11.1 The Committee considered the request of Rubber Research Institute of India, Kottayam. has requested permission to conduct Biosafety Research Level-1 (BRL-1) trial of Para Rubber Tree [Hevea brasiliensis (Wild. Ex Adr. De Juss.) Muell. Arg.] on Hb. SOD-L1 & L2 (two transgenic events (lines) developed using the same gene construct in the same species and variety) containing manganese superoxide dismutase gene (cDNA) . Trials will be conducted at two locations, namely Dapchari, Thane and Chethackal, Thombikandom, Kerala belongs to Rubber Research institute in an area of 0.4 ha.

5.11.2 The Committee noted that the purpose of the trials is to evaluate:
i. The potential of Hevea brasiliensis transgenic plant integrated with MnSOD gene for enhanced tolerance to abiotic stress and tapping panel dryness syndrome as well as to assess the capability of the plants to grow better with higher yield under adverse conditions.

ii. The proposed design is RBD with four treatments, five replicates and a plot size of six. Boundaries and isolation belt will be planted with non-modified Hevea brasiliensis plants.

iii. The data to be collected include growth and latex yield data recording; physiological parameters determining abiotic stress tolerance such as leaf water potential, photosynthetic net assimilation rate (‘A’), fluorescent parameters like Dark Fv/Fm & Phi. PSII; antioxidant enzyme assay of superoxide dismutase & peroxidase and estimation of H2O2 content.

iv. TPD (tapping panel dryness syndrome ) incidence will also be recorded.

5.11.3 The Committee also noted the following reproductive isolation measures are
proposed:
i. In the Trial site-I, towards the eastern and western side, for about 200 m no sexually compatible species are growing. Towards the northern and southern side, 75 m each will be kept as isolation belt by planting the same species.

ii. In the Trial site-II, 50 m on all sides will be kept as isolation belt by planting the same species.

iii. In both the trial sites, after flowering (by the 5 year after planting), all the seeds produced by the existing plants of the same species within 100 m from the boundary of the trial area will be collected and destroyed by burning.

5.11.4 The Committee further noted that the IBSC has recommended the proposal. The application was earlier considered by the RCGM in the 88 meeting held on 20.04.2010 wherein it was decided that the opinion of three scientists specializing in molecular biology viz. Dr. M. Udaya Kumar, UAS, Bangalore; Dr. V. Siva Reddy, ICGEB, New Delhi and Dr. Sanjay Kumar, IHBT, Palampur may be taken prior to forwarding the same for GEAC approval as this would be the first transgenic tree crop to be permitted for BRL-I trials. Based on comments of the three scientists and clarifications submitted by the applicant, the proposal was recommended by the RCGM in the 94th meeting held on 26.10.2010. The Committee considered the comments received from the experts and noted that the applicant has provided requisite clarification satisfactorily.

5.11.5 In view of the above stated facts and taking into consideration the recommendations of the RCGM, the Committee approved the request to conduct Biosafety Research Level-1 (BRL-1) trials of Para Rubber Tree [Hevea brasiliensis (Wild. Ex Adr. De Juss.) Muell. Arg.] on Hb. SOD-L1 & L2 (Two transgenic events lines.

See an old post below:

What are the results from this trial? Indian Rubber Board never published the need and benefits from this trial. Kerala has the highest productivity in the World for Natural Rubber Production. Instead of the remedies for few defects for the high yielding clone RRII 105 the research Institute spreading 400 series clones without any proper trial. We saw the animals dead on the field of BT Cotton at Andhrapradesh. After the post postmortems of dead animals the AHC “observed black patches in the small intestines, enlarged bile duct and lever with discoloration and accumulation of pericardial fluid”. And BT Cotton seed oil is feeding the Indians without labeling the same. Even people who eat meat from animals fed GM cotton seed cake may be at risk. I am not feeding cotton seed cake to my animals.
The first green revolution with chemical fertiliser, pesticides, weedicides  etc are the harmful result we are facing in Agricultural sector.
TPD due to physiological disorder can be rectified by the maintenance of physiological order. Rubber Research Institute have to observe balanced micro macro nutrients input and quality of latex at the time of tapping. Then RRII 105 will be the best verity rubber plant in the World.
I am totally worried on the health of next generation.
Warning: It is a long term crop, will contaminate the environment, harmful to bees flies animals  human etc. Read More from GMO Basics >>>>
Genetic engineering doesn’t happen in nature. Scientists force genes from bacteria and viruses into plant DNA, which result in dangerous side effects. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine urges all doctors to prescribe non-GMO diets to everyone.

GMOs are not “Green.” GMOs use far more herbicides, damage soil and marine ecology, harm beneficial insects, and cross pollinate. Their self-propagating genetic pollution will outlast the effects of climate change and nuclear waste!

We want soil health for sustainable agriculture and survival of humanity.

8 comments to റബ്ബര്‍ കര്‍ഷകര്‍ മാത്രമല്ല എല്ലാ ഭാരതീയരും പ്രതികരിക്കുക

  • Alert

    Rubber Research Institute of India to conduct open field trials of Genetically Modified Rubber in Kerala. (in total violation of Kerala’s concerns on GM crops)

    The recent meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has permitted the open field trials (Biosafety Research Level-1 Trials) of a type of Genetically Modified Rubber at Chethackal, Thombikandom in Kottayam, Kerala. With this Kerala has been selected for the open field trials of the first GM tree crop in India. The irony is that it is happening in a state which is declared as GM free. The Concerns of the State, voiced by not only its environmental and farmers organisations, but by the Agriculture Department, has been totally ignored, while permissions were given.

    Earlier this year, it may be remembered that the Minister of Environment and Forests has upheld the concerns of the public, and stopped the open field trials of Bt Brinjal, a Genetically Modified Vegetable in India. Kerala was in the forefront of the protests and it was the only State that sent an official delegation for the public consultations in Bangalore in February 2010.

    Considering the hazards that such technology can pose to the Agro-biodiversity of this zone, as well as the health of the various species that could be associated with rubber plantations, as well as nearby wildlife, these trials should not be allowed.

    This is also in violation with the recommendations of the Task Force on Application of Biotechnology in Agriculture (2004) chaired by Prof Swaminathan. The Task Force had recommended that Agrobiodiversity hot spots should be kept GM-Free. The Western Ghats region is not just a agro-biodiversity hotspot but a global natural heritage.
    Sreedhar, Thanal, Trivandrum

  • Research body develops GM rubber — Variety tolerant to drought, environment stress

    Vipin V. Nair

    Kochi , May 25, 2005

    THE Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) has developed genetically modified rubber plants that have better drought resistance and increased environment stress tolerance.

    These transgenic plantlets are currently being cultivated in the RRII campus at Kottayam.

    In future, they could go a long way towards popularising rubber in non-traditional areas where the climate is not so conducive for plantations.

    Dr N.M. Mathew, Director of RRII, told Business Line that only after observing the Government’s bio-safety regulations and after obtaining necessary approvals that the plants would be taken to the field.

    “It took us three years of research. The plantlets are now in the greenhouse,” Dr Mathew said. He did not say how long it would take for the transgenic plants to be ready for field trials.

    The major objectives of genetic transformation of rubber trees at the RRII was the introduction of genes controlling specific agronomic traits — such as the genes for resisting diseases, drought and other environmental stress tolerance, enhanced rubber biosynthesis and timber yield and tolerance to tapping panel dryness etc — to high yielding rubber clones.

    The genetic transformation technique involved the introduction of specific genes into single cells and development of whole plants from these cells.

    The RRII selected the popular RRII 105 variety for the experiments. Although it is a high-yielding clone, the RRII 105 does not have much drought tolerance.

    “We found that it didn’t perform well in areas such as the North-East,” Dr Mathew said.

    The research identified four genes that would provide draught tolerance, tapping panel dryness tolerance and elevated temperature and light tolerance.

    These genes were introduced into rubber tissues separately, and transgenic plantlets were developed with the gene coding for `superoxide dismutase,’ (SOD), hardened and transferred to polythene bags. Further, these plantlets were multiplied through bud grafting.

    Dr Mathew said preliminary biochemical studies revealed that the SOD transformed tissues over-expressed the gene when subjected to artificial stress conditions. To understand the tapping panel dryness tolerance, extensive field evaluation is needed.

    He said work is now on to develop transgenic rubber plants with enhanced rubber production by over-expressing the genes involved in the rubber biosynthetic pathway.

    Research also is in progress to develop transgenic plants producing pharmaceutically as well as industrially useful recombinant proteins in the latex.

    “The transfer of selected genes in a single generation by genetic transformation is especially interesting for the rubber tree, since its improvement through conventional breeding is limited by long breeding cycles and high levels of heterozygosity,” Dr Mathew said.
    Remarks: What are the results from it?

  • Clearance for field trial of Genetically Modified rubber?
    I have not received any official communication: Kerala Minister

    The proposed field trial comes at a time when natural rubber production has virtually stagnated

    KOCHI: In the face of opposition from the Kerala government to all genetically modified (GM) crops, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) is learnt to have approved a proposal from the Rubber Board for conducting field trials of GM rubber. The GEAC has been constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to oversee the manufacture, export or import and storage of microorganisms and genetically engineered organisms. Kerala has the highest cropped area under rubber among Indian States, and it accounts for 90 per cent of the aggregate production of natural rubber in the country.

    Informed sources in the Rubber Research Institute of India based in Kottayam told The Hindu on Wednesday that after laboratory trials proved successful, an application was submitted to the Union government for field trials. The Institute was awaiting a formal letter of clearance from the GEAC.

    The sources indicated that about an acre of land had been identified in one of Kerala’s leading rubber-growing districts for the field trial.

    However, when his attention was drawn to this matter, State Minister for Agriculture, Mullakkara Ratnakaran, told The Hindu that he had not received any official communication. He had come across some unofficial information, he said. He would convey the State’s protest to the Union government if the clearance was indeed being granted.

    GM-free State

    The reported approval from the GEAC comes in the background of the government making it clear that it would not allow GM crops in the State. Kerala has been declared a GM-free State and organisations opposed to GM crops have expressed concern over the possible approval by the GEAC.

    They recall that the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had recognised the concerns of the public in disallowing field trials of Bt. brinjal and other GM vegetables in the country.

    They point out that the Task Force on Application of Biotechnology in Agriculture chaired by Professor M.S. Swaminathan had recommended keeping agro-biodiversity hotspots GM-free. The Western Ghats region is one such hotspot and a global natural heritage.

    The State government has not, however, so far made a clear distinction between food crops and non-food crops (such as GM cotton) in its stance on GM varieties.

    The proposed GM rubber field trial comes at a time when natural rubber production has virtually stagnated while demand is on the rise worldwide. Production of natural rubber in India in October 2010 fell by 7.6 per cent to 82,000 tonnes compared to 88,775 tonnes during October last year. Consumption of natural rubber during the month was 81,500, compared to 77,950 tonnes in previous October.

    The cumulative production during April-October 2010 stands at 4,57,250 tonnes compared to 4,337,400 tonnes during the same period in 2009. This is a growth of 4.5 per cent. Aggregate consumption for the first six months of the current financial year stands at 5,50,550 tonnes against 5,34,315 tonnes. This is a growth of three per cent.

    The Rubber Board has pointed to a protracted period of heavy rain to production loss during October. Natural rubber production in countries such as Thailand and Indonesia too has come down due to heavy rain.

    Over the recent months, rubber prices have appreciated about 100 per cent, raising input costs for automotive tyre manufacturers and other consuming industry components. Yet, farmers in Kerala have not quite reaped the benefits of higher prices because of disruption in tapping.

  • ഭക്ഷ്യവിളകളില്‍ ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങള്‍ ഏറുന്നു
    കോട്ടയം: രാജ്യത്ത് മുന്‍ വര്‍ഷങ്ങളേക്കാള്‍ കൂടിയ തോതില്‍ ഭക്ഷ്യവിളകളില്‍ ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് അനുമതി നല്കുന്നതായി റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ട്. കേന്ദ്ര വനം, പരിസ്ഥിതി മന്ത്രാലയത്തിന്റെ മേല്‍നോട്ടത്തിലുള്ള ജനിതക എന്‍ജിനിയറിങ് അപ്രൂവല്‍ കമ്മിറ്റി നവംബറില്‍ 180 ഇനം നെല്‍വിത്തുകളിലാണ് തുറന്ന വയലില്‍ ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് അനുമതി നല്കിയിട്ടുള്ളത്. ജനിതക എന്‍ജിനിയറിങ് അപ്രൂവല്‍ കമ്മിറ്റിയുടെ (ജി.ഇ.എ.സി.) ഔദ്യോഗിക വെബ്‌സൈറ്റിലാണ് ഈ വിവരം വെളിപ്പെടുത്തിയിട്ടുള്ളത്.

    ഭക്ഷ്യവിളകളിലെ ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങള്‍ക്കുള്ള ഇടവേളയുടെ ദൈര്‍ഘ്യം രണ്ടു സീസണില്‍ നിന്ന് ഒരു സീസണായി കുറച്ചിട്ടുണ്ട്. പാരിസ്ഥിതികമായ ആഘാതം കുറയ്ക്കാന്‍ ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങളുടെ ഇടവേളകളിലെ ദൈര്‍ഘ്യം വര്‍ധിപ്പിക്കണമെന്ന കാര്‍ഷിക ശാസ്ത്രജ്ഞരുടെയും പരിസ്ഥിതി പ്രവര്‍ത്തകരുടെയും ആവശ്യം അവഗണിച്ചാണ് പുതിയ തീരുമാനം. ഇത് സ്വാഭാവിക നെല്‍ വിളകളുടെ നാശത്തിന് വഴിയൊരുക്കുമെന്ന് പരിസ്ഥിതി സംഘടനകള്‍ പറയുന്നു.

    റബര്‍, പരുത്തി, ചോളം, ഉരുളക്കിഴങ്ങ് എന്നിവയും ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് അനുമതി നല്‍കിയ വിളകളുടെ പട്ടികയിലുണ്ട്. ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് റബര്‍ വിധേയമാക്കാന്‍ അനുമതി നല്‍കുന്നത് ഇതാദ്യമായാണ്. കേരളം പോലുള്ള സംസ്ഥാനങ്ങളില്‍ റബ്ബര്‍ മേഖലയിലെ ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണം വന്‍ പ്രത്യാഘാതങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് വഴിവയ്ക്കുമെന്നാണ് ആശങ്ക.

    ബെയര്‍ ബയോസയന്‍സ് പ്രൈവറ്റ് ലിമിറ്റഡ്, ബി.എ.എസ്.എഫ്. ഇന്ത്യാ ലിമിറ്റഡ് എന്നീ കമ്പനികളുടെ അപേക്ഷ പരിഗണിച്ചാണ് നെല്‍വിത്തുകളില്‍ ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് അനുമതി നല്കിയിട്ടുള്ളത്. കര്‍ണ്ണാടകത്തില്‍ ജനിതക നെല്‍വിത്തുകള്‍ക്കെതിരെയുള്ള പ്രതിഷേധം വ്യാപകമായതിനെ തുടര്‍ന്ന് ഒരു മാസം മുമ്പ് പരീക്ഷണം നടത്തിയ വയലുകളിലെ വിളകള്‍ നശിപ്പിച്ചിരുന്നു. ഹരിയാനയിലും തമിഴ്‌നാട്ടിലും ബി.ടി. നെല്‍വിത്തുകള്‍ക്കെതിരെ കര്‍ഷകര്‍ സമരം നടത്തിയിരുന്നു.

    ജി.ഇ.എ.സി. എല്ലാ വര്‍ഷവും ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് അനുമതി നല്കുന്നുണ്ടെങ്കിലും ഇത്ര വ്യാപകമായി അനുമതി നല്‍കുന്നത് ആദ്യമായാണെന്ന് പരിസ്ഥിതി സംഘടനയായ ‘തണല്‍’ ചൂണ്ടിക്കാട്ടുന്നു. കര്‍ഷകരുടെയും ഉപഭോക്താക്കളുടെയും താല്പര്യം മറികടന്ന് വന്‍കിട കമ്പനികളുടെ താല്പര്യത്തിന് കേന്ദ്രം വഴങ്ങുകയാണെന്നാണ് പരിസ്ഥിതി സംഘടനകളുടെ ആരോപണം. ജനിതക പരീക്ഷണം സ്വാഭാവിക നെല്‍വിത്തുകളെ നശിപ്പിക്കുമെന്നും ഉപയോക്താക്കളില്‍ ആരോഗ്യപ്രശ്‌നങ്ങള്‍ സൃഷ്ടിക്കുമെന്നും അവര്‍ പറയുന്നു. ഇതോടൊപ്പം നെല്‍വിത്തുകളുടെ കുത്തക, കമ്പനികള്‍ക്ക് കൈവരുന്നതോടെ രാജ്യത്തെ സാധാരണ കര്‍ഷകര്‍ കടക്കെണിയിലേക്കും നീങ്ങുമെന്നും പരിസ്ഥിതി സംഘടനകള്‍ വാദിക്കുന്നു.

  • Rubber Board defends GM field trial move
    KOTTAYAM/KOCHI: The Rubber Board on Thursday confirmed that it had sent a request to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), for clearance to hold limited-scale field trials, on 0.4 hectare each, of Genetically Modified rubber plants in Kerala and Maharashtra, and said it would approach the State governments for consent to conduct the trials as and when the GEAC’s clearance came.

    The Board defended its research programmes as being essential to protect the interests of Indian cultivators, in the face of considerable progress made by countries such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia in aiding genetic transformation of rubber plants. There was no proposal to cultivate GM rubber on a commercial basis.

    However, Kerala’s Minister for Agriculture, Mullakkara Ratnakaran, said that any decision by the GEAC to permit field trials of GM rubber would constitute a violation of the rights of the people, the rights of the State and the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

    He said he had made this clear in a letter despatched on Thursday to Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh. The State should have a say in the matter, Mr. Ratnakaran said. He blamed the Rubber Board and the Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) for going ahead with such a project without consulting authorities in Kerala, a State that had declared itself GM-free.

    Earlier on Thursday, stating that it wanted to “clear any apprehensions the public may have about the matter,” the Rubber Board said the request for field trials was sent following a successful effort in developing GM rubber at the RRII in Kottayam. These plants over-expressed the enzyme MnSOD, which could enable rubber plants to overcome the effects of climate change, especially prolonged drought and tapping panel dryness (TPD). “The laboratory studies… are encouraging. Field trials should be conducted to validate the laboratory findings.”
    Rubber Board defends, Kerala slams GM field trial move
    The Rubber Board on Thursday confirmed that it had sent a request to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, constituted by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), for clearance to hold limited-scale field trials, on 0.4 hectare each, of Genetically Modified rubber plants in Kerala and Maharashtra, and said it would approach the State governments for consent to conduct the trials as and when the GEAC’s clearance came.

    The Board defended its research programmes as being essential to protect the interests of Indian cultivators, in the face of considerable progress made by countries such as China, Indonesia and Malaysia in aiding genetic transformation of rubber plants. There was no proposal to cultivate GM rubber on a commercial basis.

    Minister’s response

    However, Kerala’s Minister for Agriculture, Mullakkara Ratnakaran, said that any decision by the GEAC to permit field trials of GM rubber would constitute a violation of the rights of the people, the rights of the State and the principles enshrined in the Constitution.

    He said he had made this clear in a letter despatched on Thursday to Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh. The State should have a say in the matter, Mr. Ratnakaran said. He blamed the Rubber Board and the Rubber Research Institute of India (RRII) for going ahead with such a project without consulting authorities in Kerala, a State that had declared itself GM-free.

    Board’s defence

    Earlier on Thursday, stating that it wanted to “clear any apprehensions the public may have about the matter,” the Rubber Board said the request for field trials was sent following a successful effort in developing GM rubber at the RRII in Kottayam. These plants over-expressed the enzyme MnSOD, which could enable rubber plants to overcome the effects of climate change, especially prolonged drought and tapping panel dryness (TPD). “The laboratory studies… are encouraging. Field trials should be conducted to validate the laboratory findings.”

    As and when a formal approval for field trials comes from the GEAC, the Board would approach the governments of Kerala and Maharashtra. “If there is any objection from the States, the Board has no intention to proceed with the field trials,” said Dr. James Jacob, the RRII Director. The mandatory safety precautions would be followed in any such field trial.

    According to the Board, the gene that was over-expressed, MnSOD, was sourced from rubber itself and not from other species as was usually done in the case of GM plants. “Since the product of these genes imparts agronomically useful traits to rubber plants, we have successfully put additional copies of this gene into our GM rubber plants. MnSOD gene construct that has gone into our GM plants has CaMV 35S promoter (from virus) and npt II Kanamycin resistance and GUS reporter genes from bacteria (E. coli). Both CaMV 35S and npt II genes are extensively used in numerous GM plants, including edible crops that are commercially cultivated in many countries and no adverse effects have been reported. These genes are also present in Bt cotton that is widely cultivated in India.”

    In order to increase productivity and supply of natural rubber to meet the growing demand, judicious exploitation of modern science and technology is required, the Board contended. TPD and climatic extremes reduce productivity in the traditional regions of cultivation.

    Extension of cultivation to non-traditional areas like North Konkan or northeast India is hampered by adverse agro-climatic conditions. The GM approach, along with conventional breeding and selection, is essential to tackle these challenges, it said.

    However, Mr. Ratnakaran pointed out that experts like Prof. M.S. Swaminathan had identified the Western Ghats as a biodiversity hotspot. Allowing trial of GM rubber within this area would have serious consequences for genetic diversity.

    Thiruvananthapuram Special Correspondent writes:

    Forest Minister Binoy Viswam has expressed concern at the Centre’s move to cultivate GM rubber in Kerala.

    The Minister, who was releasing a CD at the International Horti Expo 2010 here on Thursday, expressed the fear that the cultivation of GM rubber in Kerala would adversely affect the soil, cultivation, nature and bio-diversity. He asked the Centre to take into account these factors seriously.

    He pointed out that Kerala had always taken a strong stand against the raising of GM crops. He came out against any move to implement decisions which were against the general interests of the State.

  • A GM turn
    (The exact air date of the GM episode is unknown at the moment.)

    I’m no GM expert, and really felt paralyzed by the thought of having to speak on political and academic issues in Malayalam while on TV. So, during the shoot, I tried to calm myself by thinking more about the make-up staff’s concern about the fact that my “oily face” (ahem, it’s actually a sweaty face…still working on acclimatizing myself!) was causing some camera glare.

    On a much more serious note, however, I learned that field trials of GM rubber will take place in Kerala — a strange fact given that Kerala has been declared “GM-free“. I am reminded of the fact that announcements and policies do not equate to laws and regulations; this makes research hard, but Kerala politics interesting!
    Courtesy: Sapna Thottathil

    PhD Candidate
    BA 2004 (Environmental Studies) University of Chicago; BA 2004 (International Studies) University of Chicago; MSc 2006 (Environmental Change and Management) University of Oxford. Regional focus: Kerala, India

  • No say for Health Min on GM food
    It is now final: Health Ministry would lord over the proposed Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) only in regard to clinical trials of pharmaceutical drugs but would have no control over genetically modified foods.

    Sources said the Cabinet has approved Ministry of Science & Technology’s proposal that though research, preclinical testing, import and transport of genetically engineered drugs would be regulated under the BRAI law, the first right of their inclusion would rest with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO).

    “CDSCO, being the nodal agency for clinical trials, would receive all applications for all clinical trials of live and complex genetically modified organisms and products and the Drug Controller General (of India) — after making preliminary examination — will forward the proposals to BRAI for evaluation and recommendation,” says the approved draft of the Bill.

  • GM rubber: MoEF proposes field trials for 14 years
    Field trials of Genetically Modified (GM) rubber will be held in “designated experimental sites inside research farms” of the Rubber Research Institute of India in Kerala and Maharashtra for around 14 years, according to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

    The trials will not be done in commercially cultivated holdings and the growth of the GM rubber plants will be closely monitored by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists. Without field trials, it would not be possible to state whether there will be any adverse effects to the ecosystem from GM rubber, said Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh in a letter to Kerala Agriculture Minister Mullakara Ratnakaran.

    Mr. Ratnakaran had earlier written to Mr. Ramesh opposing the clearance given by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for field trials.

    The GM rubber plants incorporate the target gene (MnSOD) from rubber itself and not from any other species. Hence, this GM plant is not transgenic in its strict sense. The new gene is expected to increase tolerance to drought and physiological disorders that significantly reduce rubber productivity. Laboratory studies indicate that there were good reasons to expect favourable results from GM rubber plants, he said.

    Differentiating the case of Bt brinjal with GM rubber, Mr. Ramesh said that the committee gave clearance for “bio safety research level-1 trials at first stage, to assess the efficacy, safety and stability of the new GM rubber plant. The case of brinjal was for “commercialisation of a food crop,” he said.

    No patents

    The commercial cultivation of GM rubber will be contemplated only on the basis of results of the field trials.

    The views of the State governments will be considered after the trials are completed.

    The Institute “is not a private research institute interested in making GM rubber and making money by selling it. All plants/clones produced will go to the rubber growers free of cost. There are no patents for RRII rubber clones which are not Intellectual Property Right-protected as far as Indian growers are concerned,” he said.

    In the past, RRII has produced and given highest-yielding clones to Indian rubber-growers for making India number one in terms of natural rubber productivity.

    Extension of natural rubber cultivation to non-traditional areas such as Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and North Konkan required development of new rubber varieties for which the GM approach was one option.

    Climate change

    The challenge of climate change, which has already led to longer dry periods for rubber cultivation, also necessitates the GM approach, he argued.

    Mr. Ratnakaran had earlier pointed out that the State wished to remain free of GM crops.

    The government adopted the stand to protect its agriculture, agro-biodiversity and its valuable biodiversity.

    Mr. Ramesh had informed Parliament that Kerala had the right to remain GM free if it wished to do so as agriculture was a State subject, he said.

    The Minister had also requested the Centre not to permit field trials of any GM crop in Kerala and the decision to permit open field trials or open releases should be taken only after getting written consent from the concerned States.