Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

GM mustard gets regulator nod, ball in government's court

GM mustard gets regulator nod, ball in government's court

India is one step away from commercial production of its first GM food crop with the central biotech regulator on Thursday granting clearance for the commercial cultivation of genetically modified mustard that will now be considered for final approval by the Centre.

"We note with deep disappointment and shock the regulatory green signal from the GEAC for the commercial cultivation of GM Mustard".

"Your government has been scouting around the world for technology and investments in Defence, atomic energy, space, IT and infrastructure, but when it came to Agriculture no such efforts are visible", he said.

The GM mustard, developed by a Delhi University institution, is only the second food crop which got its clearance from the central regulator. "It has given a positive recommendation", an environment ministry official told PTI. The committee also put circumstances while commending GM Mustard's commercial use.

In September 2016, the ministry had declared the GM mustard variety safe for human and animal health and invited public comments on its biosafety report. "By clearing GM mustard, GEAC has shown itself to be anti-science, anti-farmers, anti-environment and anti-consumers", Sridhar Radhakrishnan, Coalition for a GM-Free India said in a letter to Dave. The GEAC had earlier in 2010 cleared the Bt Brinjal but the decision was not accepted by then environment minister Jairam Ramesh.

Today's decision, which numerous anti-GM activists were unaware of, got sharp reactions from Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM).

However, claiming to have quantified certain facts, the activists also claimed that even 25 per cent cultivation of GM mustard would impact the livelihood of millions of farmers by reducing 4.25 crore employment days.

The only other GM crop cultivated in India is cotton and the government is expected to soon allow the cultivation and commercial sale of three locally developed varieties of cotton seed.

She added that India already has hybrid crop and does'nt need GM mustard.

The activists also pointed out that the BJP in its election manifesto has promised that it will not subject Indians to GM food crops without proper long term scientific evaluation. "In this case, it is a hazardous herbicide tolerant food crop, which has direct implications for a large number of Indian farmers, agricultural workers and consumers", the body said.

Anti-GM activists and farmers had a year ago approached PM Modi demanding rejection of GM Mustard.

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