India might see the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) jute in a month. Developed by the University of Calcutta, GM jute is set to be sent for commercial approval to the regulator, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), next month. If approved, GM jute will be the second crop of its kind after GM cotton was approved for commercialisation in 2002.
“GM jute is ready. The university is set to apply to the GEAC in a month,” said Swapan K Datta, deputy director general of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), on the sidelines of a round-table on ‘Addressing challenges of food security’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here on Monday.
Farmers expect that the success of GM cotton will be replicated in jute. “With jute being a non-food crop, GEAC should not have any problem in approving it. The regulator has concerns only on food items,” Datta said.
Almost 30 per cent of the 250 million tonnes of foodgrains produced annually are packed in jute bags worth around Rs 6,000 crore.
Around 40 per cent of the jute bags produced are purchased by the Union food ministry through the Food Corporation of India, on behalf of different state food procuring agencies.
The country’s jute sector manufactures around 1.2 million tonnes of bags in a year. The installed capacity stands at nearly 1.5 million tonnes.