India govt differs decision to grant nod for commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified mustard
New Delhi, Feb 7:
India’s Genetically Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), under the environment ministry has differed its decision to grant nod for the commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard seed developed by the Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants.
“We do not want to impose anything on the people without wider consultation and after further deliberations we will take call on whether give nod to GM mustard or not,” environment minister Prakash Javadekar said after GEAC meeting last week.
He said that the environment ministry has sought more information on certain aspects of the bio-safety data from the field trial of GM mustard. However, Javadekar said that progress of science could not be stalled as the productivity of various agricultural crops have to be increased for ensuring that the country able to meet the rising requirement of food in the country.
He said that GEAC would held series of meetings in the next few months to deliberate and discuss on the bio-safety data on the field trials conducted for GM mustard prior to giving nod its commercial cultivation. The Delhi university has already submitted the bio-safety data following field trial of GM mustard to GEAC.
This is the first proposal that has come up before the National Democratic Alliance government led by Prime Minister Narindra Modi after the previous United Progressive Alliance government had put a moratorium on commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in 2010. Currently, Bt cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation. GM mustard, developed by the Delhi university, is a herbicide tolerant variety which claims to increase in yield of mustard,
According to industry body – Association of Biotech Led Enterprises – Agriculture group, GM mustard has the potential of increasing the yield by more than 25% which could reduce the country’s import of edible oil. The country’s rapeseed-mustard seed production was reported at 6.3 million tonne in 2014-15 crop year (July-June).
Meanwhile, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh also supported research work in transgenic
crops as per regulatory norms. He said the government was willing to promote best technologies and scientific inputs from all available sources to achieve the goal of food security.
“Genetic engineering is one tool to break yield barrier in many crops. The Department of Agriculture supports research on transgenic crops if it is conducted as per approved procedure and guidelines and various bio and environmental safety measures are followed and prescribed approvals from the GEAC, the duly-constituted authority in the Environment Ministry, are obtained,” Singh said at the Biotechnology Summit here.
Former union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss and several farmer groups such as Bhartiya Kisan Union, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh and the Right to Food Campaign have protested against allowing commercial cultivation of GM mustard.
“Our government should not be imposing on its citizens unneeded, unwanted and unsafe GMOs. GM mustard is certainly one such GMO with serious adverse implications for various stakeholders”, said Kavitha Kuruganti of Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture, a NGO