A push for GM mustard disregarding science, the law

A determined battle by environmentalists in the Supreme Court of India against Delhi University’s genetically modified (GM) herbicide-tolerant (HT) mustard is all that stands between GM food and Indian farmers and consumers. GM crops are quite different from conventional varieties and hybrids, such as those developed by farmers, agricultural research institutions and companies. Biotechnologists insert select genes at a random location in the DNA of a plant to develop a GM crop. The insertion makes a GM crop express traits that it ordinarily would not. For instance, GM mustard has been altered to withstand the broad-spectrum plant-killer or herbicide glufosinate. This makes it easier to develop hybrid mustard seeds for higher yields. And farmers growing GM mustard can spray the herbicide to kill all plants except the mustard.

GM mustard 

GM mustard refers to a genetically modified variety of mustard crop developed in India. The specific genetically modified mustard in question is known as DMH-11 (Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11). It was developed by a team of scientists at the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) at the University of Delhi.

Here are some key points about GM mustard:

Genetic Modification:

GM mustard is genetically modified to enhance its yield and improve resistance to pests and diseases. It involves the introduction of genes from other organisms to impart specific traits, such as herbicide tolerance and higher productivity.

Hybrid Variety:

GM mustard is a hybrid variety that aims to increase mustard oil production by utilizing self-pollination and cross- pollination techniques.

Scientific Development:

The development of GM mustard involved years of research and testing by Indian scientists. The objective was to create a genetically modified variety that would benefit farmers by increasing yields and reducing cultivation costs.

Controversy and Debate:

The introduction of GM mustard in India has been met with controversy and public debate. Critics express concerns over potential health risks, environmental impact, and the concentration of the seed market. Supporters argue that GM mustard could help address food security challenges, increase farmers’ income, and reduce dependence on imports.

Regulatory Process:

The regulatory process for approving GM mustard involved scientific assessments and regulatory scrutiny by various bodies in India, including the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The GM mustard proposal went through a rigorous evaluation process before the decision to approve or reject its commercial cultivation.

It’s important to consider that perspectives on genetically modified crops can vary, and the decision to approve or reject GM mustard involves scientific, environmental, and socio- economic considerations.

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