Technology must be used to boost mustard seed output: SEA on environmental release of GM mustard

Cooking oil industry SEA on Thursday welcomed the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s recommendation to release genetically engineered mustard into the environment, saying the new technology must be used to increase domestic production and reduce imports of cooking oils. The Union Department of Environment’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has recommended the release of genetically engineered mustard into the environment, which experts say paves the way for its commercial cultivation.

“This is good news. We have been following this matter for more than 15 years. Any opposition to new technologies will not help,” said BV Mehta, Executive Director of the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA).

Some NGOs and misinformed individuals have opposed the introduction of GM crops, with disastrous consequences for the nation, he added.

According to him, the country imports 60 percent of its annual cooking oil needs.

“We must use all available technologies to increase our domestic production of oilseeds so that we can become self-sufficient in edible oil production,” he said.

Currently, Mehta said, the average yield of mustard, a Rabi crop, is 1,200 kg per hectare and the annual domestic production is 115 lakh tons.

“We need to increase domestic production to 200 lakh tons in the next 5-6 years,” he said, adding that productivity needs to be increased by 20-25 percent.

India imported around 130 lakh tons of cooking oil in the 2020-21 oil year (November-October).

GEAC, the country’s regulator of genetically modified organisms, recommended the “environmental release of hybrid mustard DMH-11 for its seed production and testing under existing ICAR guidelines and other existing rules/regulations prior to commercial release”.

“… the field demonstration studies related to the effect of genetically modified mustard on honeybees and other pollinators, as recommended at the 136th GEAC meeting, must also be carried out simultaneously after release into the environment by the applicant within two years according to the supervision of ICAR”, according to the minutes of the GEAC meeting of October 18th.

The transgenic mustard hybrid DMH-11 was developed by the Center for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) at Delhi University.

The government has so far (in 2002) approved only one GM crop, Bt cotton, for commercial cultivation. Technology must be used to boost mustard seed output: SEA on environmental release of GM mustard

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