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This rabi season may see the sowing of GM mustard

This rabi season may see the sowing of GM mustard


With the central biotech regulator green flagging commercial cultivation of GM mustard, the government is likely to take a call on the transgenic food crop ahead of the Rabi sowing season, beginning October.

Though the ministry’s approval is also contingent on current proceedings in the Supreme Court, the Centre could be looking at limited introduction of GM mustard in the 2017-18 Rabi season.

The environment ministry on Friday came out with a detailed explanatory note allaying safety concerns on consumption of the transgenic variety of oil-seed in the form of `Frequently Asked Questions’ (FAQs) seeking to assure public opinion that the food crop is as safe for consumption as conventionally grown mustard varieties in India.

The note also point-by-point answered a number of questions which are being raised by civil society members and anti-GM groups on its impact on quality of nectar, honey bees, animal feed, use of additional irrigation and fertilisers or whether it will cause any diseases. The ministry has said it will not cause ailments like dropsy .

The ministry , however, remains careful while responding whether all GM foods are safe. It avoids making general statements and says different GM organisms include different genes inserted in different ways. “This means that individual GM foods and their safety should be assessed on a case-by-case basis and that it is not possible to make general statements on the safety of all GM foods“, said the eight-page note.

Though the ministry later removed the link of the note from its official website in the light of some spelling mistakes, officials said the idea of making it public was to make people aware of science behind transgenic crops and moreover the safety issue of the GM mustard which would be the first genetically engineered food crop in India.
“We have already made public the safety assessment report of the sub-committee of the central regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which had last year concluded that the consumption and cultivation of the GM mustard was completely safe for human consumption and
environment. We want to inform people about it in a simple way so that the anti-GM propaganda, based on unscientific reports, should not mislead them”, said an official.

Responding to these questions, the note says, “This genetically engineered (GE) mustard is as safe as non-GE mustard. It won’t cause Dropsy or any other diseases. The introduced proteins are independent of the nectar production traits and therefore are not expected to influence nectar quality and quantity .”
“The honey bee studies have revealed that this GE mustard does not affect the number of honey bees visiting GE mustard plants as compared to non-GE mustard plants“.

It also noted that the transgenic variety of mustard has “no additional requirement of irrigation and fertiliser for growth and cultivation as compared to any other conventional mustard“.






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