NEW DELHI: In a big push to commercial release of GM Mustard, an environment ministry sub-committee on genetically modified mustard in its report has said that the technology is safe for consumption and environment and does not raise any public health concerns for human beings and animals.
The committee in its assessment report has said that the mustard hybrid, DMH-11 developed by Delhi University former Vice Chancellor Deepak Pental led Centre for Genetic Manipulation and Crop Plants (CGMCP), is very similar, in its composition, to the commercially cultivated varieties in India which have a history of safe use.
This comes at a time when there is debate going on about commercial release of transgenic crops in India. Once given go ahead, it will be the first transgenic food crop to be released in India. The committee’s report has been put in public domain inviting comments from all stake holders.
“From the toxicity and allerginicity studies, it was concluded that the GE mustard, the parental lines and hybrid DMH-11, does not raise any public health or safety concerns for human beings and animals with respect to overall nutritional characteristics,” said the 133-page report.
Civil society groups have been opposing clearance to the GM Mustard on several grounds including serious concerns with male sterility and herbicide tolerance and inadequate testing.
The report says that although GE mustard hybrid DMH-11 contains the bargene, conferring resistance to herbicide Basta (Phosphinotricin), it is not exhibited as a functional trait till Basta is sprayed on the plants.
“In any case, farmers are not required to spray Basta in the hybrid GE DMH-11 field for weed control as Basta is not a recommended herbicide in the package of practices for mustard cultivation in India,” it said.
It further said that food and environmental biosafety assessment did not reveal any measurable risk, for sustained use of technology in breeding for newer hybrids some post-release monitoring precautionary measure like honey bee behavior be conducted.