On Tuesday, the Department of Biotechnology issued guidelines for assessing the safety of genetically modified plants, which are expected to accelerate the genetic improvement of crops in the country.
The guidelines provide a roadmap for the sustainable use of genome editing technology and are applicable to public and private sector research institutions engaged in research and development and management of genome editing plants.
The Ministry of Environment, in a notification in March 2022, exempted certain genome-modified crops from the strict biosecurity rules applicable to genetically-modified (GM) crops. The Ministry exempted the site-directed nucleus (SDN) 1 and 2 genomes from Rule 7-11 of the Environmental Protection Act, thus allowing a lengthy process to be approved for GM crops through the Genetic Engineering Evaluation Committee (GEAC).
According to Casey Bonsal, former director, National Bureau of Plant Genetics Resources, conventional breeding techniques take 8-10 years to develop new agricultural crop varieties, where through genome-editing, new varieties can be developed in two to three years.
Scientists say that genome-modified plants differ from the technology of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). A group of genome editing technologies that enable scientists to change the DNA of an organism.
Rajesh S. Gokhale, Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, said, “These guidelines are expected to bring about transformational changes in product development and commercialization and contribute to increase the income of farmers.”
The guidelines define the different categories of genome-modified plants and determine the regulatory requirements for the appropriate division and provide regulatory frameworks and scientific guidelines on the need for information in the context of the development of these crops.
According to Bhagirath Chowdhury, founder and director of the South Asia Biotechnology Center, Jodhpur told FE that the guidelines align and align India’s regulatory framework on genome editing with other mega-food producing countries in Latin America, North America, Africa and Asia. Chowdhury said the decision would encourage the development and commercialization of genomically modified plant products and accelerate better trade in agriculture and such products.
Recently, regarding gene editing technology, Johannes de Rossou, Head of Bare Crop Science, Vegetables (research and development), said, “We can take it to a point where our seed companies have the ability to use it. In their breeding program, we To accelerate the products we develop to improve the profitability of producers. “
Last year, a team of eminent agricultural scientists wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to facilitate the release of genome-editing technology for the sector.
In the case of GM technology, applicants must apply to GEAC, which follows a periodic testing procedure with the states. So far, cotton is the only GM crop that has been approved for commercial cultivation in the country.