Scientist Deepak Pental has announced that they are very close to transferring an indigenous variety of genetically-modified cotton to a government agency to substitute Monsanto’s product. The seeds, developed with his team at Delhi University, are similar to those produced by US-based Monsanto but are more immune to pests, Pental said. The scientist had submitted another variety of cotton to the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, but neither variety had undergone field trials, Reuters reported.

The team was instrumental in producing GM mustard after a 10-year-long experiment. A government panel will declare the mustard seeds safe for consumption and environment, subject to its findings, according to Reuters. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led administration had said it intended to reduce dependence on foreign parties for food and is expected to announce its decisions on the GM mustard variety and future GM projects. Monsanto dominates the GM cotton sector in India

Pental said he knew genetically-modified food was opposed as being unsafe, but said, “The government has taken the right path and experts have looked at all the data." India’s researchers have the potential to contribute much more in the field if they receive the support, the scientist added.

Monsanto recently opposed the Centre's decision to regulate GM cotton rates and impose a technology-sharing policy by withdrawing its application for approval for new cotton seeds. Several foreign seed companies, including Bayer, Dow, Dupont Pioneer and Syngenta, recently formed an alliance to mark their protest against India's decision.