Government refers back issue of commercial release of GM mustard to Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee

The government has referred the issue of commercial release of GM mustard back to the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee  after receiving representations from various stakeholders.

Published: 05th January 2018 06:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 05th January 2018 06:35 PM   |  A+A-

A farmer with genetically modified mustard crop (File | EPS)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The government has referred the issue of commercial release of GM mustard back to the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) after receiving representations from various stakeholders.

The application related to the environmental release of transgenic mustard was recommended by the GEAC in its 133rd meeting held on May 11, 2017, Minister of State for Environment Mahesh Sharma said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.

"However, pursuant to the receipt of various representations from different stakeholders, the government has referred the application back to the GEAC for further examination in October 2017," he said.

Sharma said "pursuant to the decision taken by the government on transgenic mustard in October 2017, no fresh round of consultations have been conducted with any stakeholder groups." The GEAC, in 2017, had recommended the commercial use of genetically modified (GM) mustard in a submission to the environment ministry, following which there has been opposition from anti-GM activists.

It is now left to the environment minister to take a call on the matter.

"Decision regarding commercial release of genetically modified crops is governed in accordance with the 'Rules for the Manufacture/Use/Import/Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms, Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells', 1989 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986," Sharma said.

"However, no objection certificate from the state department of agriculture is required for conduct of any confined field trial in that particular state," he said.

Replying to another question, Sharma said that presently, there are 16 trials of GM crops under consideration of the GEAC for various stages of testing.

"Some state governments such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and some experts have expressed their reservations over introduction and field trials of genetically modified crops," he said.

He pointed out that towards enhancing awareness and capacity-building on the matter, the government organises workshops for different stakeholders including state-level functionaries, farmers among others, along with dissemination of knowledge products in various regional languages.

"The government has not received any adverse report regarding destruction of local varieties by or health hazards of genetically modified crops.

"The government has a well-laid policy regarding genetically modified crops framed under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986," he added.

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