GM mus­tard gets GEAC nod for cul­ti­va­tion

En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter to take fi­nal call


AF­TER MONTHS of suspense, a ge­net­i­cally-mod­i­fied va­ri­ety of mus­tard, de­vel­oped by a Del­hibased in­sti­tute, has been cleared for com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion by the coun­try’s top reg­u­la­tor on ge­net­i­cally-en­gi­neered or­gan­isms.

The GEAC, or Ge­netic En­gi­neer­ing Ap­praisal Com­mit­tee, a body that func­tions un­der the En­vi­ron­ment Min­istry, on Thurs­day gave its rec­om­men­da­tion to ap­prove the long-pend­ing ap­pli­ca­tion of the Cen­tre for Ge­netic Ma­nip­u­la­tion of Crop Plants at Delhi Univer­sity which had de­vel­oped a trans­genic mus­tard called DMH-11.

The rec­om­men­da­tion for clear­ance has been sent to En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Anil Mad­hav­dav­e­who­has­toap­prove the de­ci­sion.

The GEAC’S de­ci­sion on Thurs­day puts DHM-11 mus­tard at a stage where Bt brin­jal, a trans­genic va­ri­ety of brin­jal, had found it­self seven years ago. Bt brin­jal was the first ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied food crop that had reached the En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter’s ta­ble for clear­ance af­ter ob­tain­ing all the nec­es­sary reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments. The then En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Jairam Ramesh, how­ever, had re­fused clear­ance and put an in­def­i­nite mora­to­rium the de­ci­sion. That mora­to­rium con­tin­ues to this day.

GM mus­tard is the only other food crop which has made it to this last stage, af­ter pro­longed de­bate and sev­eral rounds of reg­u­la­tory checks that has been go­ing on for years. It is not clear what Dave would de­cide on this crop.

But or­gan­i­sa­tions op­posed to ge­net­i­cally-mod­i­fied crops slammed the GEAC’S de­ci­sion.

“GEAC has proved yet again that it is un­sci­en­tific and un­car­ing with re­gard to cit­i­zens’ health and en­vi­ron­ment. They have failed in their very man­date and pur­pose for which they have been cre­ated, to pro­tect cit­i­zens from the risk of GMOS... We hope and urge min­is­ter Anil Mad­hav Dave to be re­spon­si­ble in his de­ci­sion-mak­ing. This GM mus­tard should be re­jected just as Bt brin­jal was, seven years ago,” said Sar­son Satya­graha which claims to be a plat­form for “hun­dreds of or­gan­i­sa­tions” rep­re­sent­ing farm­ers and sci­en­tists op­posed to in­tro­duc­tion of GM mus­tard.

Rss-af­fil­i­ate Swadeshi Ja­gran Manch also crit­i­cised the de­ci­sion of GEAC. “We are against the com­mer­cial use of any ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied crops, in­clud­ing GM mus­tard. And we will re­quest that the gov­ern­ment should not al­low its com­mer­cial cul­ti­va­tion,” said SJM co-con­vener Ash­wani Ma­ha­jan. ■ Union Home Min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh on Thurs­day launched a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion with an aim to di­rectly com­mu­ni­cate with 10 lakh Cen­tral armed po­lice force per­son­nel. ■ Due to se­cu­rity con­cerns, the APP-MHA Mo­bile Ap­pli­ca­tion will not be avail­able on An­droid, Ap­ple or any other App store. Per­son­nel would be able to down­load it only through the min­istry's web­site. ■ “Now, I’m only a click away. Jawans can di­rectly key in their griev­ances through the app and I would mon­i­tor the sta­tus ev­ery month,” said Singh, adding the app was con­cep­tu­alised at a meet last year.

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