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Comprehensive study of Environment- parivesh, genetically modified food(current affairs)
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Comprehensive study of Environment In this lesson we discussed - genetically modified foods - parivesh - environmental impact assessment

Komal Shekhawat
Written two UPSC Mains (2017-2018) love to teach and learn.

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  1. COMPRE ENSIVE STUDY OF ENVIRONMENT


  2. PAR VESH Why in News? Recently, government launched an integrated environmental management system named; PARIVESH (Pro-Active and Responsive facilitation by Interactive, Virtuous and Environmental Single-window Hub). About PARIVESH It is a web based, role-based workflow application which has been developed for online submission and monitoring of the proposals submitted by the proponents for seeking Environment, Forest, Wildlife and CRZ Clearances from Central, State and district level authorities. It automates the entire tracking of proposals which includes online submission of a new proposal, editing/updating the details of proposals and displays status of the proposals at each stage of the workflovw or .The system includes monitoring of compliance reports including geo-tagged images of the site by regulatory body or inspecting officers even through the Mobile App for enhanced compliance monitoring It also provides access to previous Environment Impact Assessment Reports, which is a valuable reservoir of information. ing offiers even throe


  3. Significance of PARIVESH It will improve the entire process of appraisal and environmental clearance because delay in environment clearance can cause a huge monetary loss and negatively impact business prospect of that region. It will ensure transparency and expedite the process of granting clearance by enabling project proponent and citizen to track and interact with scrutiny officers, generate online clearance letters The Project Proponent can also track the movement of their application at different stages and can see the findings of the Expert Appraisal Committee on their project proposal. It has been developed in pursuance of the spirit of 'Digital India' and capturing the essence of "minimum government and maximum governance"


  4. GENE MODIFIED (GM) FOOD Why in News? Recently, a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) study found the wide presence of GM ingredients in packaged food items sold in India . What are GM foods? GM foods involve taking genes (DNA) from different organisms and inserting them in food crops for the purpose of enhancing its productivity or increasing its immune power or nutritional and aesthetic values. There is a concern that this 'foreign' DNA can lead to risks such as toxicity, allergic reactions, and nutritional and unintended impacts.


  5. Safety of GM Foods Safety of GM crops and products has been a matter of concern for human health. Risk assessment on a caseby-case basis is critical for a country-level decision to allow or restrict GM foods because various GMOs have different genes, which are inserted itn multiple ways. Also, studies used to evaluate the risk must take into account different populations and geographies Safety of GM foods in India In 2017, a Parliamentary Committee report that examined the impact of GM crops on environment and human and animal health identified huge gaps with respect to the safety of GM crops. It noted the following key issues:


  6. There has been no Indian scientific study carried out so fa study the impact of GM crops on human health. . The government should reconsider its decision to commercialize GM crops in the country as it has not been scientifically proven that GM crops have no adverse impact on human health. It is relying solely on studies that have not been done in India rather than on our own population and in the context of our climate and environment. It is very late in the day for the FSSAl to take a decision to label GM foods imported into the country. However, the committee strongly recommends that labeling on GM foods must be done with immediate effect.


  7. Draft notification on labeling of GM foods It was issued by FSSAl in May this year which mandates that any food that has 5 per cent or more GM ingredients, shall be labeled, provided this GM ingredient constitutes the top three ingredients in terms of percentage in the product. .Despite these, most GM foods studied did not disclose the fact on the label. A few also made false claims of being GM free. Nearly 65% of the samples that were found GM positive did not disclose its genetically modified ingredients. Criticisms against FSSAI . Against draft labeling regulations: The exemption limit of 5 per cent in the draft notification of labeling is very relaxed compared to other countries such as the EU, Australia and Brazil, which have limits at or below 1 per cent. Also it is very difficult for government to quantify the GM content in all foods as the tests are prohibitively expensive and technically cumbersome. FSSAl has not allowed any GM food on paper but has failed to curb its illegal sales: Since 2007, GM soybean and canola oils are being imported in India without the approval of FSSAl though GEAC had permitted its import


  8. . Codex Alimentarius guidelines for assessing risks associated with GM foo . Typically, the following parameters are considered for risk assessment: . Toxicity-acute, sub-chronic and chronic Allergenicity, i.e. the potential to provoke allergic reaction due to cross reaction with other allergens or from new unknown GM proteins Composition analysis of major and minor nutrients o Nutritional effects associated with genetic modification that could arise if GM DNA is inserted into the crop genome at a location where it modifies the existing DNA such that the nutritional content of the crop alters. . Stability of inserted gene to avoid its unintended escape into cells of the body or to bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. This is particularly relevant if antibiotic resistant genes, used as markers while creating GMOs, were to be transferred Unintended effects that could result from the gene insertion leading to formation of new or changed patterns of metabolites


  9. * Regulatory issues in the approval proce for GM processed foods: . Since 1989, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has been responsible for approving commercial cultivation of GM crops as


  10. . ell as the manufacture, import and selling of processed foods made from GM ing So far, Bt cotton has been approved for cultivation. After the enactment of the Food Safety and Standards Act in 2006, the GEAC wanted to restrict itself to approval of living modified organisms (LMOs) and shift the task of approval of processed foods to the FSSAI for which a notification was also issued in 2007. . In response, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) requested the MoEF&CC to continue regulating processed foods until the FSSAl was ready to do so in a scientific manner. The notification was kept in abeyance until 2016, making the GEAC responsible for approvals of processed foods, with no accountability of the FSSAl in practice despite Section 22 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act) stating that GM foods shall not be manufactured, sold, distributed or imported until the FSSAl approves them. . Meanwhile, in 2013, the Legal Metrology (Packaged Commodities) Rules, 2011 were amended to mandate that packages containing genetically modified foods bear the words 'GM' on its principal display panel. . This rule was inconsistent with the fact that GM foods are not allowed in India and in fact created the false perception that GM food was allowed.


  11. The FSSAI's new draft labeling regulation of April 2018 aims to address the issue labeling of GM foods. (For Draft labeling norms refer May 2018 VisionIAS current affairs) Way Forward The FSSAI must identify all GM products being sold in the market and prosecute companies and traders responsible. . It must set up a safety assessment system for approval of both domestic and imported GNM foods.India's GM labeling regulations must be based on stringent exemption limit and qualitative screening as an enforcement tool meaning that all products wherein GM ingredients are used must be labeled even if the final product does not contain GM DNA or protein. The threshold limit for GM labeling exemption should be set at one per cent GM DNA and not on the weight of the ingredient. . The FSSAI should adopt qualitative screening (such as through quantitative polymerase chain reaction qPCR) as an enforcement tool and the onus of proving unintentional presence should be on the food manufacturer. It must set up laboratories to screen GM foods for effective monitoring. . A symbol-based label such as 'GM' should be displayed on the front of packs which carry GM food just like the green "tick" along with the words "Jaivik Bharat" proposed for organic food.


  12. STATE ENER GY HE ICIENCY PREPAREDNESS INDEX 2018 . Why in news? The Alliance for an Energy Efficient Economy (AEEE) under the leadership of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency(BEE) and NITI Ayog has recently released the first Nationwide 'State Energy Efficiency Preparedness Index' Background .In 2001 the Energy Conservation Act was introduced which was instrumental in the formation of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and the State Designated Agencies (SDA) in the states. It also put in place the muchneeded institutional framework for formulating energy efficiency policies and implementing them. National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE) is one of the eight national missions under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). NMEEE aims to strengthen the market for energy efficiency by creating conducive regulatory and policy regime and has envisaged fostering innovative and sustainable business models to the energy efficiency sector. The Mission is implemented since 2011. . To compliment such efforts the index was recently released considering energy consumption, energy saving potential and states' influence in implementing energy efficiency in buildings, industry, municipalities, transport, agriculture and DISCOMs.


  13. o Track progress in managing states' and India's energy footprint O baseline for EE efforts to date and provide a foundation to set state- specific EE targets It examines states' policies and regulations, financing mechanisms, institutional capacity, adoption of energy efficiency and energy savings. The Index has 63 indicators in all 59 across buildings, industry, municipalities, transport, agriculture and DISCOMs; and 4 cross-cutting indicators. In each sector, energy efficiency indicators have been developed to measure the impact of state initiatives in driving energy efficiency in states. The indicators are both qualitative and quantitative, which include outcome-based indicators as well to signify realisation of the intended performance outcomes, to the extent possible, for various energy efficiency policies and programs


  14. D ARTIFICIAL REEF . Why in news? Recently, World's largest 3D-printed reef installed in Maldives, for coral reefs survive due to threat posed by climate change and warming waters. About the 3D-Printed Artificial Reef * It was developed using computer modelling and a 3D printer, which resemble reef structures typically found in the Maldives. The reef structure is cast in ceramic, an inert material similar to the calcium carbonate found in coral reefs. .Live coral was then transplanted within the artificial reef where it will grow and colonize the structure.


  15. THE NATIONA WIL DL FE GENETIC RESOURCE BANK Why in news? Union Science and Technology Minister dedicated the National Wildlife Genetic Resource Bank (NWGRB) in Hyderabad. More on News .It is established at Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES) and can store 17,000 vials worth of samples So far, genetic resources from 23 species of Indian wild animals have been collected and preserved. However, it is planned to contain genetic resources from 250 species in the beginning


  16. Related Information Wildlife Genetic Resource Bankin (GRB) is a systematic collection and preservation of tissues, sperm, eggs and embryos, genetic material (DNA/ RNA) of living beings. Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species It is a dedicated laboratory of the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad. It is the only institute in the country working towards conservation of endangered wildlife using modern biotechnologies to save endangered wildlife species of India


  17. Utility of the institute * This facility would increase the collection of genetic resources from wildlife by facilitating exchange of genetic material between Indian zoos for maintaining genetic diversity. It would also facilitate research work