GEAC clears GM mustard for commercial use
NEW DELHI: In a major move, the key central government authority on genetically-modified (GM) crop issues — Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) — is learnt to have on Thursday given the go-ahead for commercial release of GM mustard with a number of conditions.
If approved, GM Mustard could be the first genetically-modified food crop to be cultivated commercially in India .
So far only GM cotton is commercially cultivated. Cultivation of GM crops is a hugely sensitive issue and is bound to invite both political and social protests.
The final decision on GM mustard’s commercialisation will ultimately lie, however, with the environment ministry, headed by Anil Madhav Dave.
Still further, the issue is also caught in litigation at the Supreme Court and the environment ministry will also take the facts to the apex court before its final approval.
The GEAC approval to GM mustard comes a full year after it put the risk assessment report on it in public domain for comments -over 700 comments were received. The report categorically stated that the variety does not “pose any risk of causing any adverse effects on human and animal health and safety”.
Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), led by researcher Prof Deepak Pental, had applied for the approval of environmental release of genetically engineered mustard (Brassica juncea) hybrid DMH-11 and use of parental events (Varuna bn 3.6 and EH-2 modbs 2.99) for the development of new generation hybrids to the GEAC.
The report put out in public domain says in its conclusion that “the risk assessment performed after examining and considering the existing information in literature and data provided in the dossier submitted by the developers, against the background of available knowledge in the subject areas, it is clear that GE mustard lines Varuna bn 3.6, EH-2 modbs 2.99 and the hybrid DMH-11do not pose any risk of causing any adverse effects on human and animal health and safety”.
The issue of allowing genetically modified crops in India has been a rather controversial and politically sensitive one with many activists and farmer groups strongly opposing to it on grounds that such crops adversely impact human and animal health.
The issue is particularly tricky for the Narendra Modi government with RSS-aligned groups such as Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Kisan Sangh strongly opposing to GM crops.
The Swadeshi Jagran Manch has made strong observations on the GM crops issue saying it would take it up with the environment minister as well as the Prime Minister if need be.
“Under this government, GEAC has given hundreds of clearances and none has been approved by the environment minister. GEAC just wants to oblige interested parties. Lies are being propagated about GM mustard which is not even an indigenous variety.
“Neither the people nor the farers approve this. Most importantly, the Supreme Court has stayed its launch.
“So how can GEAC approve it? We are writing to the environment minister on this and if need be, will take it up with the PM as well,” Ashwani Mahajan, Swadeshi Jagran Manch’s national convener, told ET.
Source: ECONOMIC TIMES