The Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change has a Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) (MoEFCC). It is responsible for the environmental assessment of activities involving large-scale use of dangerous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production, according to the Rules of 1989. The committee is also in charge of reviewing proposals for the release of genetically modified (GE) organisms and goods into the environment, including field testing.
GEAC is co-headed by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEFCC. It currently has 24 members and meets once a month to consider applications in the above-mentioned categories.
Genetic Engineering Approval Committee vs Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee
India's apex regulatory body for biotech, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), which functions under the Environment Protection Act 1986 of the Ministry of Environment Forests (MoEF), was changed to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee. This change was made by a Gazette Notification published on July 22, 2010, and it is now available on MoEF's website.
The Minister of MoEF declared in February 2010 that he would change the name of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) and impose a moratorium on Bt brinjal. This was part of his decision to commercialise Bt brinjal.
Under the EPA 1986 "Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989", GEAC is responsible for granting permits to conduct experimental and large-scale open field trials and also approve the commercial release of biotech crops.
The following are the GEAC's functions, as defined under the Rules of 1989:
- To assess the environmental impact of large-scale use of hazardous microbes and recombinants in research and industrial production.
- To evaluate proposals for the release of genetically modified organisms and products into the environment, including field testing.
- Under the Environment Protection Act, the committee or anybody authorised by it has the authority to take punitive action.
Composition of the GEAC
The Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India, chairs the Committee. A co-chair is a representative from the Department of Biotechnology.
Many other Committee members meet once a month to review the applications in the Committee's domain. Experts from various ministries, as well as institutions such as the ICAR, ICMR, and CCMB, are among the members.
Meetings on GEAC
The GEAC meets every Wednesday to discuss various policy and application issues. For easy access, year-by-year records of proceedings and decisions at GEAC meetings are available on the official website of GEAC.
The GEAC is hellbent on the bio-safety of crops and other bio-engineering experiments of the country and the presence of a statutory body is really essential since bio-engineering can be easily misused to cause massive destruction.
There are multiple advanced projects and guidelines that are formulated by GEAC which are not in the common domain but with the establishment of a statutory body, we hope for some great advancements by India in the field of Bio-Engineering.
FAQs on GEAC
Q.1. What is the GEAC's function?
The following are the GEAC's functions, as defined under the Rules of 1989: To assess the environmental impact of large-scale use of hazardous microbes and recombinants in research and industrial production.
Q.2. How does the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) regulate genetic engineering research?
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee or GEAC is the apex authority in charge of overseeing the manufacture, usage, import, export, and storage of dangerous microorganisms or genetically modified organisms or cells. It is in charge of regulating genetic research.
Q.3. Is GEAC a statutory organisation?
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is a statutory body established under the 'Rules for the Manufacture, Use, Import, Export, and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/ Genetically Engineering Organisms or Cells, 1989' notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
Q.4. Why was GEAC formed?
The Ministry of Environment and Forests established the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee) to oversee research, testing, and commercial release of genetically modified crops, food, and creatures.