The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) was constituted under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) as the apex body under the ‘Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989’ in accordance with the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
- It is the organization engaged in the appraisal of activities that involve the large-scale usage of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in industrial production as well as research from an environmental point of view.
- Its mandate is to ensure that only safe and environmentally harmless activities are done.
- The organization also appraises proposals related to the release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment, including experimental field trials.
- The ministry’s Special Secretary/Additional Secretary is the Chairman of the GEAC.
- It is co-chaired by a representative of the Department of Biotechnology.
- Currently, the GEAC has twenty-four members and meets once every month to carry out its prescribed activities.
Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee Functions:
The following are the core functions of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee:
- To appraise activities involving the large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
- To appraise proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.
- The committee or any persons authorized by it has powers to take punitive action under the Environment Protection Act.
Genetically Engineered Organisms (GMOs):
- India is one of the earliest countries to establish a biosafety system for regulation of GMOs.
- The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is also responsible for giving technical approval of proposals relating to the release of GMOs and products including experimental field trials.
- However, Environment Minister gives final approval for GMOs.