GM mustard back on the table again?

Aesha Datta New Delhi | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on June 17, 2016

GEAC meeting on Monday likely to take a call on the issue

Genetically-modified mustard is likely to come up soon for consideration of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in its next meeting scheduled to take place on Monday.

Sources closely associated with the committee said a decision on commercialisation of the crop developed by Deepak Pental, former Vice-Chancellor of Delhi University, is likely soon.

The GEAC had earlier, on February 5, outlined several new steps and additional information to be added to the bio-safety dossier for the hybrid oil seed within two weeks for consideration by a sub-committee. According to the team that has developed the crop, the new technology could increase the yield of mustard by about 25 per cent, decreasing the need for imports.

“The revised dossier received from the applicant would be considered by the sub-committee and a Biosafety Risk Assessment and Risk Management (RARM) report would be prepared for consideration of the GEAC,” the minutes of the last meeting said.

Sources also said the requisite information has been submitted by the team of scientists for the GEAC’s assessment.

However, the bio-safety data on the crop has not been made public. “Subsequent to the above review and if the biosafety dossier is found to be complete in all respects, the biosafety dossier/RARM report excluding confidential information will be put in the public domain for comments,” the minutes of the February 5 meeting said.

GM mustard, if allowed, would be the first GM food on our plates, and has been severely opposed by both activists as well as State governments such as Bihar.

Further, the lack of information on the hybrid crop in the public domain has been a cause for concern and has resulted in the Central Information Commission directing the Committee to make the biosafety information public by April-end.

Since then, the minutes of past meetings have been made available. However, the biosafety information has not been shared as yet on the grounds that data with crop developers are still being sorted out.

Published on June 17, 2016

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