Norms eased for genetically modified crop research: Department of Biotechnology

Norms eased for genetically modified crop research: Department of Biotechnology

Recently, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has amended the biosafety guidelines for genome-edited plants.

Objectives of the Guidelines:

  • Establish a roadmap for the long-term use of genetic modifications, and define and determine the regulatory requirement for individual categories of genome-edited plants.
  • Genome editing is a group of gene editing technologies. It makes it possible to change the DNA/RNA of an organism.

Major Genome Editing Techniques:

  • Zinc-finger Nucleases (ZENs),
  • Transcription Activator-Like Effector Nucleases (TALENs),
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats (CRISPR) etc.

This technique has the following common uses in plants:

  • Crop improvement,
  • Increase crop nutrition,
  • Crop protection,
  • As biofuel etc.

These guidelines are from the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Dangerous Microorganisms/Genetically Modified Organisms or Cells, Rules, 1989, for genome edited plants falling under the categories of Site Directed Nuclease (SDN)-1 and SDN-2. These rules have been made under the Environment (Protection) Act (1986).

This exemption is based on the earlier concession given by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. This concession was given to avoid a lengthy process for approval of GM crops through the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

Importance of new guidelines-

  • These bring India’s regulatory framework at par with other major food producing countries of the world.
  • Encourage product development and commercialization to help increase farmers’ income.
  • Accelerates the genetic development of the crop through rapid breeding process.

Source – The Hindu

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