Govt takes time to okay commercial cultivation of GM mustard

Govt takes time to okay commercial cultivation of GM mustard
The NDA government has approved 18 field trials of genetically modified crops in the last two years, but needed more time to decide on the commercial cultivation of GM mustard.

“In the last two years, 18 field trials of GM crops were approved. How can we increase our productivity without using science and technology”, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said here on Monday. The genetically engineered crops that received field trial approvals are cotton, rice, castor, wheat, maize, groundnut, potato, sorghum, brinjal, mustard, sugarcane and chickpea.

Carrying out the field trials, however, depends on receiving a no-objection certificate from the states. Field trials of GM cotton, maize and mustard took place in Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat and Delhi from which GM mustard, developed by the Delhi University, came close to commercialisation. When the commercialisation proposal for indigenous GM mustard came up before the regulator, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) in February, Javadekar intervened before the regulator could decide.

The minister stepped in due to opposition from the anti-GM activists and Left parties. The project was put on the backburner. “The mustard proposal is still being studied,” he said.

The Environment Ministry has not yet released the biosafety data for GM crops as directed by the Central Information Commission. “We will respond to the CIC,” Javadekar said.

The number of approved field trials as stated by the minister is far less than what an anti-GM lobby group estimated two years ago after the GEAC cleared a number of proposals in four meetings within months of the NDA government coming to power.

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