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The Genetic Engineering Appraisal committee (GEAC), which is the government entity to approve genetically modified crops for field trials and commercial release, is set to be reconstituted by the Ministry of Environment in the coming weeks.
The three year period of the last GEAC ended in June 2012 and since then they have not met or screened any of the GM products applications. About 50 applications from different companies both Indian and foreign, including Monsanto have piled up for approval. Greenpeace India has warned that the GEAC might now be diluted to allow for more field trials or commercial release of GM crops.
February 9th marks three years since the then Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh declared a moratorium on the release of Bt brinjal, India's first GM food crop. While Bt brinjal is still on hold due to safety concerns, that has not stopped other GM food companies clamouring to get their products approved in India.
One such company is Monsanto who is vying for approval for its GM corn. Greenpeace commissioned Testbiotech to assess the data on GM corn presented by Monsanto to the Indian authorities and theyconcluded that no decisions can be taken on the safety of their GM crops. Apart from missing data and inadequate investigations, there are substantial indications pointing to health and environmental risks. But unfortunately open field trials of this GM corn have already been conducted.
A poll has also been created to gather public opinion on what people think of GM food and if they really believe that it will generate more food for the hungry in India. Link: http://www.greenpeace.org/india/en/What-We-Do/Sustainable-Agriculture/GE-campaign/no-genetic-modification/
Arctic Council environment ministers meet
Environment ministers of member countries of the Arctic Council are holding a meeting in Kiruna, Northern Sweden to discuss issues related to the Arctic region. The first day saw ministers and experts talk about the development and cooperation between nations in the Arctic. They also addressed issues of pollution, biological species diversity in the region, climate change and consequences to the rest of the Earth considering Arctic degradation.
Greenpeace has been protesting against drilling for oil in the Arctic and industrial fishing. The entire earth is dependent on the wellbeing of this fragile environment, and that's something that cannot be taken lightly. Greenpeace demands that world leaders declare a global sanctuary around the North Pole.
Interestingly, this was the first meeting of the environment ministers of the Arctic Council and they met in a mine at a depth of 550 meters, to discuss Arctic Change and Its Global Consequences.
Ignatius Thekaekara is Online Media Officer with Greenpeace India.