A two day national symposium on "Relevance of GM Technology to Indian Agriculture and Food Security was organised by Gene Campaign on Nov. 26 and 27, in Delhi, to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. The Multistakeholder symposium brought together speakers and participants from across the entire range of views held on the subject of GM crops. Speakers ranged from strong supporters of GM technology to those equally strongly opposed to it and those with measured views. Participants included scientists, academics, social scientists, farmers, members of parliament, lawyers and judges, representatives of government, including the regulating agencies, various policy makers, the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), the seed industry, food processing and retailing industries, environmentalists, consumer organisations, organic farmers (IFOAM) and civil society organisations.

The two-day event witnessed a series of high quality presentations and strong, focussed discussions. One thing that all speakers pointed out was the appalling state of the Regulatory Framework in India and the urgent need to change it. Members of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), India’s apex regulatory body explained the process of regulation and in the face of vociferous demand, agreed to put more data on the GEAC website.

Members of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee explained the process of regulation, and were met with vociferous demands for better information.
A series of recommendations emerged from the two-day consultations. These are being forwarded to the Government’s Task Force on Biotechnology, the GEAC, the Department of Biotechnology, the Minister of Science and Technology, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment as well as the Prime Minister’s Office.


  1. A distinct law should be enacted to oversee Genetic Modification Technology and its implementation. This law must harmonise with other laws and national and international agreements.

  2. A comprehensive biotechnology policy should be developed in consultation with all stakeholders.

  3. A statutory National Bioethics Commission must be set up.

  4. There should be a consultative and participatory process to prioritise crops and traits for genetic improvement through biotechnology with the goal of addressing the needs of small farmers and Indian agriculture.

  5. Investment in public sector research should be increased and strengthened. Novel gene discovery in crops of relevance to India should get highest priority.

  6. India must develop a policy for transgenic varieties of crops for which it is a Centre of Origin and Diversity. Commercial cultivation of GM rice should not be allowed until the nature of gene flow and its impact is understood.

  7. The Herbicide Tolerance trait should be subject to rigorous cost and risk benefit analysis before being considered for adoption.

  8. Alternatives to the GM approach must be carefully evaluated in each case before deciding on the GM route. A cost and risk benefit analysis must be conducted before deciding on a GM product.

  9. Protocol for food safety tests must be vastly improved and mechanisms for long term monitoring of human health (post GM food release) be put in place.

  10. Develop a stringent protocol to assess environmental and ecological impact.

  11. There should be provisions for post-market surveillance and monitoring of GM products.

  12. Have a policy to deal with bio terrorism urgently.

  13. India must exercise caution in the IPR regime that it adopts. The current PPV-FR should be retained since it balances Breeders and Farmers? Rights.

  14. A new statutory, independent National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority must be established.

  15. Make GEAC more competent, transparent and accountable. Post data on research and development of GM crops and products on websites and local newspapers.

  16. An annual review of all decisions on GM products must be presented to Parliament.

  17. Conduct a scientifically sound study to assess attitudes and perceptions about GM technology among stakeholders in India.

  18. Undertake a program of awareness about GM technology to educate the public.

  19. Organize a series of public debates across the country to elicit the views of the people, to channel it into policy making. The government should fund this exercise.

  20. There should be a moratorium on commercial cultivation of GM crops until the regulatory system is demonstrably improved. Research on GM crops, however, should continue.