The Genetic Engineering Assessment Committee (GEAC), which reports to the Union Ministry of the Environment, once again approved the proposal for the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) mustard.
The recommendation will now go through the approval of the Ministry of the Environment. Although the GEAC had approved the proposal in 2017, the Ministry vetoed it and suggested that the GEAC carry out further studies on the GM crop.
The mustard hybrid variety DMH-11 recommended for environmental release by GEAC has been developed by the Center for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), South Delhi Campus of the University of Delhi.
The decision is “excellent for the country” because GM mustard would bring “better yields and lower costs for farmers,” said Deepak Pental, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi and the scientist behind GM mustard, technically called Dhara Mustard Hybrid. -11 (DMH). -eleven). The partially state-funded project cost ₹70 crore in total, from laboratory to field testing.
Activists who oppose GM crops criticized the approval. The Coalition for a GMO-Free India called the authorization “shocking”, alleging that the “regulator colluded with the developer” to push it through.
The GEAC approval clears the way for the commercial production of GM mustard seeds and the use of the technology to produce more hybrid varieties of GM mustard. The trade authorizations were given at a GEAC meeting on October 18, details of which were published on the agency’s website on Wednesday.
- GEAC has given its approval for the environmental release of GM mustard based on the recommendations of a panel constituted by it.
- In giving the go-ahead, the GEAC has said that field studies should be carried out simultaneously with ICAR on the effect of GM mustard on bees and other pollinators.
- GEAC go-ahead is not final approval for commercial release, but a step forward.
- The approval is valid for the next four years.
- Environmental activists and Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS affiliate, have opposed the move and urged the government not to give a final go-ahead.
Kavitha Kuruganti, founder of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture, said: “The claim that GM mustard will increase yields is not supported by data submitted by crop developers to the regulator.”
Kuruganti, who is a member of the GMO-Free India Coalition, said Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav had earlier expressed his views against GM crops.
“It is the regulator that has given the green signal. The minister should not approve it,” he said.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Coalition for a GMO-Free India said: “This compromises biosafety in a serious and objectionable way, and we call on the government not to move forward to allow this dangerous herbicide-tolerant food crop in India.”
The coalition had recently written to Yadav that “GM mustard uses the pretext of creating hybrid technology in a plant like mustard but is in effect a herbicide tolerant crop. All biosafety evaluation of GM mustard so far has not taken this fact into account.”
GM mustard is a toxic, herbicide-tolerant hybrid that will dramatically increase the presence of toxic chemicals in our food and soil and thus affect health, said Rohin Kynar, senior agriculture campaigner at Greenpeace India.
Mustard, a cooking oil, has been pressed in India for 4,000 years through ox-driven mortar and pestle presses, commonly called “khachi ghani.” However, Indian mustard grows only half as vigorously as its Eastern European cousins. Low yields mean that India has to import millions of dollars worth of cooking oil every year.
In early May 2017, similar trials were recommended at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi, but not approved by the Union Environment Ministry. Volunteer activists and farmers’ organizations had approached the Supreme Court to oppose the measure, after which the decision to approve it was suspended.
- Sarbal Village: A hamlet in Kashmir waiting for development
- Farmers in MP face crop failure every year due to climate change
- Climate Change: Kishanganga Dam causes water concerns