For several years, speculation had been rife that cotton would become the ﬁrst commercial genetically modiﬁed (GM) crop in India. The country funded domestic biotechnology research throughout the 1990s, and GM cotton varieties have been tested extensively in ﬁeld trials. At the same time, Indian regulatory authorities have been concerned about the safety of agricultural biotechnology. National regulations were introduced in 1989, and India was behind recent efforts to create international rules that led to the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in January 2000.
Indian negotiators argued that the Protocol should be based on the precautionary principle and allow countries to reject imports of genetically modiﬁed organisms (GMOs) because of suspected environmental harm, as well as socio-economic considerations. Partly in response to growing domestic opposition to such crops, India has banned GMO imports.