GM mustard to enhance productivity, reduce pendency: Centre to Supreme Court

It also maintained that opposition to GM seeds is based on unfounded fears which hurts Indian farmers, consumers and the industry
Last Updated : 10 November 2022, 15:10 IST

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The government on Thursday defended its decision to release genetically modified mustard before the Supreme Court, saying this will enhance productivity and reduce the dependency on imports as the present edible oil consumption in India surpasses the domestic production rate.

It also maintained that opposition to GM seeds is based on unfounded fears which hurts Indian farmers, consumers and the industry.

A bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and Sudhanshu Dhulia adjourned the hearing on two PILs filed by Gene Campaign and a group of activists led by Aruna Rodrigues, seeking moratorium on the release of GM mustard.

The court, however, extended its status quo order on the cultivation of the oil seed till November 17, the next date of hearing.

In a written response, the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change said that India meets 55-60 per cent of edible oil demand through imports despite extensive use and sowing of mustard at 8-9 million hectares of land.

"Seed replacement (farmer buying fresh seed) rates are around 63 per cent and area under irrigation had increased to 83per cent of the total area under mustard, which is the most important edible oil and seed meal crop of India. Despite all these investments, yield of mustard are stagnating," the ministry said.

The response said GM mustard hybrid has shown increased per hectare yield by 25-30 per cent over traditional varieties and due to exploitation of hybrid vigour.

"Production of edible oil due to deployment of GM mustard hybrids will reduce the dependency on other exporting countries and will contribute to India's self-sustenance with respect to production of edible oil," it said.

The government also asserted that it is committed to improving farmers' income and farm productivity in oilseeds and grain legumes with an explicit goal of making the country Atmanirbhar (self-sufficient) in edible oils and grain legumes.

"The country needs to be independent in oil production to meet the domestic consumption demand as increased edible oil prices of refined palm oil, refined soya oil and mustard oil have been continuously increasing, thus will lead to inflation in the Indian economy," the government said.

It further pointed out India is importing and consuming a large quantity of edible oil from GM oilseeds. For instance, cotton grown in India is a GM crop and we annually produce about 9.5 million tonne of cottonseed and about 1.2 million tonne of cotton oil is consumed by human beings and about 6.5 million tonnes of cottinseed cake is consumed as animal feed. Similarly, India already imports 55000 MT canola oil made from GM seeds, 2.8 lakh tons of GM soyabean oil.

Most exporting countries like Argentine, USA, Brazil and Canada cultivate GM soyabean and globally around 80 per cent of soyabean grown is GM soybean, it said, adding that regulatory authorities in US, Canada, Australia have reported no adverse effects of such cultivation.

Published 10 November 2022, 15:08 IST

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