Mustard set to be India’s first GM food, gets regulator nod

Posted by on May 16, 2017 in Activities, News | 0 comments

Mustard set to be India’s first GM food, gets regulator nod

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vishwa Mohan| TNN | Updated: May 12, 2017, 05.04 AM IST

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The GM mustard was developed by a Delhi University institution
  • In 2010, the Bt Brinjal was cleared but the decision was not accepted by then environment minister
  • Decision of the GEAC was, however, vehemently opposed by environmentalists

NEW DELHI: India’s central biotech regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), on Thursday cleared the genetically modified (GM) Mustard for commercial cultivation and recommended its approval to the environment ministry.

The fate of this transgenic variety of oil-seed will now be in the hands of the MoS environment Anil Madhav Dave who may either accept it, reject it or sit over the file till the Supreme Court takes its call on a pending application on the matter.

The GM mustard, developed by a Delhi University institution, is only the second food crop which got its clearance from the central regulator. The GEAC had earlier in 2010 cleared the Bt Brinjal but the decision was not accepted by then environment minister Jairam Ramesh. Currently, only Bt Cotton – a non-food GM crop – is commercially cultivated in the country.

“The application on GM Mustard presented by Deepak Pental of South Campus (Delhi University) was appraised at the GEAC meeting held on Thursday. The GEAC has recommended the approval of GM Mustard to the environment ministry. Earlier, a sub-committee had appraised the safety document for GM Mustard”, said Amita Prasad, chairperson of the GEAC.

Pental, ex-vice chancellor of the Delhi University and a well-known genetics scientist, had filed the application for commercial release of the GM Mustard in December 2015. The GEAC had subsequently set up a sub-committee to examine the safety aspect of the use of transgenic variety of the mustard. The sub-committee had last year given its safety clearance while noting that the GM Mustard is safe for human consumption and environment.

Decision of the GEAC was, however, vehemently opposed by environmentalists, anti-GM groups and even the RSS-linked economic policy think-tank Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM). Reacting to the development, the SJM’s national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan told TOI that the decision has no meaning at all when the matter is still pending in the Supreme Court. “We will write against the GEAC’s move to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the environment minister Anil Madhav Dave, requesting them to reject the recommendation of the GEAC”, said Mahajan.

The ‘Sarson Satyagraha’, a broad platform of hundreds of NGOs representing farmers, consumers, scientists and others that has been at the forefront of resisting the approval of GM mustard in India’ too condemned the green signal to the herbicide tolerant GM Mustard.

“The GEAC has proven yet again that it is unscientific and uncaring with regard to citizens’ health and environment. They have failed in their very mandate and purpose for which they have been created, to protect citizens from risks of GMOs. Earlier in the case of Bt brinjal too, they behaved irresponsibly and shamelessly unscientifically. In this case, it is a hazardous herbicide tolerant food crop at that, which has direct implications for a large number of Indian farmers, agricultural workers and consumers”, said Kavitha Kuruganti of the Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA).

She, on behalf of the Sarson Satyagrah, said, “We have shown over the past several months, through rigorous analysis of available material, how this GM mustard dossier was rigged for favourable results, how it is an unneeded GMO, how it will increase chemicals in our food and farms (because it is a herbicide tolerant GMO) and how regulators should have never allowed it to proceed this far. They had ignored many valid questions raised by scientists and others and chose to function behind a shroud of secrecy”.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/indias-biotech-regulator-gives-green-signal-to-gm-mustard-activists-oppose-the-move/articleshow/58631988.cms

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