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Crop Biotech Update

India's Environment Ministry Stresses Safety of GM Mustard

August 16, 2017

The environment ministry of India has told the Supreme Court that GM mustard has no herbicide tolerant trait and genetically modified crops have a proven history of safe use for more than 20 years. 

GM mustard was developed by renowned geneticist Deepak Pental (former vice-chancellor of Delhi University) and his team, with support from the National Dairy Development Board and the Department of Biotechnology, Dhara Mustard Hybrid. It is expected to help farmers increase mustard productivity which has been stagnant for several years. No herbicide tolerance trait was introduced in the variety. However, biotech critics are repeatedly making misleading claims that GM mustard is a herbicide tolerant crop.  Thus, the environment ministry released an affidavit stressing that GM mustard is not herbicide tolerant, and that the risk assessment studies showed that the GE crop does not pose any harmful effect to humans or animals.

"Rapeseed /canola (sister crop of mustard) hybrids based on same technology have been a major success in Canada, USA, and Australia … the technology has a proven history of safe use for more than 20 years. There is no report of any proven ill effects whatsoever in the use of this technology," said the environment ministry in its affidavit.

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the regulator of GM products in India, has recommended the approval of commercial planting of GM mustard on May 11, 2017. 

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