Genetically modified crops (GMCs, GM crops, or biotech crops) are plants used in agriculture, the DNA of which has been modified using genetic engineering methods.
In most cases, the aim is to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally in the species. Examples in food crops include resistance to certain pests, diseases, or environmental conditions, reduction of spoilage, or resistance to chemical treatments (e.g. resistance to a herbicide), or improving the nutrient profile of the crop. Examples in non-food crops include production of pharmaceutical agents, biofuels, and other industrially useful goods, as well as for bioremediation.
The only GM crop permitted for cultivation in the country by the Central Government is Bt cotton.
The safety aspects of genetically modified crops are assessed by the Institutional Biosafety Committees (IBSCs), Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) and Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) constituted under Rules 1989 of Environment Protection Act (EPA) – 1986 based on Biosafety Guidelines and the Standard Operating Procedures.
GM crops are permitted for environmental release and cultivation only after undergoing elaborate food and environmental safety assessment following regulatory guidelines and standard operating procedures under Rules1989 of EPA-1986 and no GM crop is allowed for cultivation, if it poses any risk to the environment including human and animal health.
So far, only GM Mustard and Bt Brinjal have been recommended by GEAC to Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India for consideration for environmental release and cultivation.