GEAC to meet tomorrow to discuss GM mustard

By PTI | 3 Jan, 2016, 11.25AM IST
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NEW DELHI: The much-debated issue of GM mustard will be discussed tomorrow at a meeting of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the apex body for the regulation of such food products.

The Environment Ministry has received a proposal for commercial cultivation of a genetically modified (GM) hybrid variety of the mustard plant, developed by the Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP).“The GEAC meeting is scheduled for January 4. Deepak Pental, developer of the GM mustard seed at the Delhi University, will make a presentation on the subject,” a senior government official told PTI. 

This is the first meeting of GEAC on GM mustard. Several meetings will be held before taking a final call on the issue, the official added. 
Already, there is stiff opposition by NGOs against GM mustard, which is seen to jeopardise traditional varieties and leave farmers dependent solely on private companies for such seeds. 
Former Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss and several farmer groups such as Bhartiya Kisan Union, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh and the Right to Food Campaign have made representation to the government opposing GM mustard. 
Accusing green activists of indulging in “baseless” opposition to GM mustard, biotechnology industry body ABLE-AG has said the regulator, GEAC, should at least be allowed to do a scientific review of the technology before firming up its mind. 
According to ABLE-AG, GM mustard — which has the potential of increasing yield by 25 per cent — is required in India as the country is still dependent on edible oil imports. 
India’s rapeseed-mustard seed production was 63.09 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June).
This is the first proposal that has come up before the NDA government after the previous government had put a moratorium on commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in 2010. Currently, Bt cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation. 

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