AAP neta Mishra joins GM protest

Delhi Minister Kapil Mishra participated in a protest to oppose the commercial launch of genetically modified (GM) mustard, even as scientists in Delhi University and Jawaharlal Lal Nehru on Friday said they will adhere to government guidelines when conducting field trials for GM crops.

According to Ashwani Pareek of Jawaharlal Nehru Unviersity’s School of Life Sciences, the universities have an Institutional Biosafety Committee, which periodically reviews biosafety aspects of research projects.

Earlier in the day, Kapil Mishra joined the protesters who staged dharna outside the Environment Ministry under the banner ‘Sarson Satyagrah’ and submitted a petition to Union Minister Prakash Javadekar asking the government not to abort its plan to commercialise GM mustard.

“He has assured that they are not taking any decision today on GM mustard. Small victory but a long battle ahead,” he said on Twitter after meeting Javdekar at his office.
Before leading the protesters to Javdekar’s office, he alleged Delhi Police of trying to scuttle his protest march.

“I have told delhi police, i will not go back without praying at Rajghat,” he tweeted.
Delhi government has already expressed its reservations about commercial lunch of GM mustard.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday said Delhi University had been conducting field trials of GM crops without a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the Delhi government.

DU scientist Deepak Pental, the lead scientist who used government grants to conduct field trials to develop Mustard Hybrid 11 (DMH 11), refuted Sisodia’s allegations. He told reporters that he obtained the NOC in 2014-15 when the AAP was not in power.  On Friday, Pental participated in a global summit on biotechnology alongside the Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan.

JNU Prof Ashwani Pareek told Deccan Herald that the minister hinted that the country should go ahead with the field trials. He added that Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests has experts from various fields to examine scientific merits of releasing genetically modified seeds.  The GEAC on Friday deliberated on commercialisation of GM mustard, but failed to arrive at a decision.

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