Honey cultivators today opposed genetically modified (GM) mustard variety and asked the government not to approve it for commercial cultivation while claiming that it may affect adversely honey production and livelihood of lakhs of farmers.
They also appealed to state governments to intervene immediately and stop approval for its cultivation, while also announced that beekeepers and farmers would stage a protest on September 28 at Jantar Mantar against GM mustard.
"We would like our experts and ICAR to examine the data carefully to see if the tests done are adequate or not and if the results have been interpreted correctly. But for that to happen, the government has to share the entire bio-safety dossier in the public domain," said Yogeshwar Singh, a member of Confederation of Beekeeping Industry, in a statement.
He also suggested that the stakeholders should be given at least 120 days time to study the available information.
The industry body also demanded the government to first investigate the impact of Bt cotton on honey production.
However, non-profit body South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC) said the Beekeeping Industry's concerns are "politically motivated, non-scientific reaction to deliberately create fears amongst the general public and mislead the beekeepers in particular."
"GM mustard is likely to have beneficial effects on honey bees population based on their relatively enhanced foraging behaviour resulting in increasing honey production and income of beekeepers in mustard growing areas," the SABC said in a separate statement.
SABC President and renowned pathologist C D Mayee stated that there has been "no significant adverse effects of GM canola on pollinators, honey bees and honey production have ever been reported by these countries in the last 20 years."
Vibha Gupta, Principal Scientist of Delhi University South Campus who is directly involved in the GM mustard project said: "In GM mustard, hybrid DMH-11 is fully fertile with pollen viability similar to the parental line Varuna and has fully developed nectaries."
"In the BRL-I and BRL-II trials honey bees were observed to visit transgenic lines and hybrid DMH-11 as well as their visit to their non- GM comparators," she added.
Biotech regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has not yet taken a final view on GM mustard variety developed by the Delhi University's Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants. It has sought public comments on safety aspects.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)