India, the GM-trashbin

While the world wakes to the human health and environment nuisance of genetically modified crops, India is fast turning into a dustbin for the new technology.

Not all GM decisions are taken in accordance with scientific principles. India, which has become a favoured destination for the biotechnology industry that is virtually on the run from the United States, European Union and Australia, is a case in point. Besides cotton, genetic engineering experiments are being conducted in India on maize, mustard, sugarcane, sorghum, pigeonpea, chickpea, rice, tomato, brinjal, potato, banana, papaya, cauliflower, oilseeds, castor, soybean and medicinal plants in. The developments in the area of legislation with regard to GM foods in other parts of the world reveal a different trend.

In March 2004, Western Australia became the first Australian state to ban outright planting of GM food crops. Within a few days of this decision, Victoria imposed a four year moratorium on the cultivation of GM oilseeds rape to 'protect its clean and green' image. South Australia and Tasmania have also banned GM crops. In the United States, Mendocino County of California became the country's first to ban the raising and keeping of genetically engineered crops or animals. In March, the state of Vermont, in a historic decision, voted overwhelmingly to support a bill to hold biotech corporations liable for unintended contamination of conventional or organic crops by genetically engineered plant materials.

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Himal Southasian