A central government panel on Thursday recommended approving an application that has sought clearance to commercially cultivate an indigenous genetically modified variety of mustard. The move paves the way for this seed to be the first GM food crop of the country, NDTV reported.
The assent for the GM crop, developed by a Delhi-based institute, came from the Environment Ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee. The Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants had developed the transgenic mustard – named DMH-11 – and sent it to the panel, whose recommendation now needs Environment Minister Anil Dave’s clearance, according to The Indian Express.
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. Farmers across the country had launched protests against this conditional approval, saying they had concerns about “seed production being taken over by single companies”.
Before GM mustard, Bt brinjal was the only other genetically modified crop developed in India that had reached this stage in regulatory requirements. Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had refused to approve its commercial cultivation and imposed an indefinite moratorium on it, which continues to this day.
However, the approval for GM mustard has not avoided opposition. The Swadeshi Jagran Manch has warned that commercial production of GM mustard will affect related agricultural activities. Another group – the Sarson Satyagraha, which claims to represent “hundreds of organisations” of farmers and scientists against GM mustard – said the GEAC’s move proved how “unscientific and uncaring” it was “with regard to citizens’ health and the environment”.