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What is GM Mustard?

GM Mustard

About GM Mustard

What is GM Mustard?

In October 2022, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recommended the environmental release of the genetically-modified (GM) mustard (Brassica juncea) variety DMH (Dhara Mustard Hybrid)-11 for the development of new generation hybrids, paving the way for the commercialisation of the country’s first GM food crop. The GEAC said that the commercial use of DMH-11 hybrids will be subject to the Seed Act, 1966, and related rules and regulations.

Genetically-modified plants are developed to introduce a new trait to the plant which does not occur naturally. The DNA of the plant is modified using genetic engineering to produce the GM plant varieties which can be grown as food crops or non-food crops.

According to South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC), "GM mustard is likely to have beneficial effects on honey bee population based on their relatively enhanced foraging behaviour resulting in increasing honey production and income of beekeepers in mustard growing areas. In GM mustard, hybrid DMH-11 is fully fertile with pollen viability similar to the parental line Varuna and has fully developed nectaries. Around 50-60 per cent of the total production of honey in India is mustard honey, which makes the crop vital for the survival of the honey industry".

Mustard cultivation

Mustard is one of India's most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November. The Indian mustard (B. juncea) is a member of the Brassicaceae family. Mustard is cultivated by around 6 million farmers in around 6.5-7 million hectares of land across the states of Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Madhya Pradesh.

DMH-11 has been shown to deliver 30 per cent higher yields than existing varieties. The average yield of existing mustard varieties is around 1,000-1,200 kilograms per hectare, while the global average is over 2,000-2,200 kgs.

What is DMH-11?

Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 or DMH-11 is a genetically-modified variety of mustard. The DMH-11 has been developed using the genetic male sterility (GMS) technique especially 'barstar-barnase' system to make herbicide resistant.

Concerns

GM mustard has been a subject of intense political debate in the country with both pro- and anti-GM activists placing their claims and counterclaims vigorously. Environmental activists and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of the RSS, have opposed the move and urged the government to not give final approval.

Worried that a genetically modified mustard crop would impact honey production in India, honey cultivators have opposed the GM mustard variety and asked the government not to approve it for commercial cultivation claiming that it may adversely affect the livelihood of lakhs of farmers.

The DMH-11 mustard variety is herbicide tolerant, allowing farmers to spray over the crops with weed killer without harming the crops. This has raised fears that farmers may resort to excessive use of toxic herbicides which can lead to weeds becoming resistant to them and the emergence of so-called superweeds. Critics are also concerned about herbicide residue on GM crops.

What is GEAC?

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), established under the Ministry of Environment and Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), is the apex body, notified under Rules 1989, of the Environment Protection Act 1986 for approval of activities involving large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental safety angle. The GEAC is also responsible for the approval of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials (Biosafety Research Level trials-I and II also known as BRL I and BRL II).

Latest Updates on GM Mustard

Mustard seed output may touch all-time high of 12 mn tonnes this year: SEA

2 min read Last Updated :Apr 04 2024 | 6:52 PM IST
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Supreme Court reserves order on environmental release of GM mustard

2 min read Last Updated :Jan 18 2024 | 12:39 PM IST
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GM Mustard: Why reports of panel not considered by GEAC, SC asks Centre

4 min read Last Updated :Jan 11 2024 | 8:22 PM IST
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SC starts hearing pleas challenging commercial release of GM mustard

3 min read Last Updated :Jan 09 2024 | 7:28 PM IST
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SC defers GM mustard hearing to Nov 21; experts say trials may be delayed

3 min read Last Updated :Oct 10 2023 | 10:56 PM IST
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Low weight not a negative for GM mustard DMH-11, says Deepak Pental

3 min read Last Updated :Oct 08 2023 | 11:59 PM IST
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In trials, genetically modified mustard's yield against peers under scanner

3 min read Last Updated :Oct 05 2023 | 11:50 PM IST
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Pro-GM groups upset over questions on environmental impact of GM mustard

3 min read Last Updated :Aug 30 2023 | 10:23 PM IST
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SC seeks response on plea for withdrawal of undertaking on GM Mustard

4 min read Last Updated :Aug 22 2023 | 11:24 PM IST
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Govt 'misleading' SC on herbicide-tolerant nature of GM mustard: Coalition

2 min read Last Updated :May 15 2023 | 12:43 PM IST
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GM mustard not developed as herbicide-tolerant, Centre tells SC

3 min read Last Updated :Jan 24 2023 | 10:24 PM IST
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GM Mustard: It's risk factor which concerns us more, observes SC

3 min read Last Updated :Jan 24 2023 | 7:09 PM IST
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GM Mustard won't solve India's edible oil import problem, says Ashok Gulati

4 min read Last Updated :Jan 12 2023 | 11:03 PM IST
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Govt rebuts activists claims on violations in GM mustard appraisal

5 min read Last Updated :Jan 07 2023 | 3:57 PM IST
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2022: When high prices ate into rural earnings more than in urban areas

6 min read Last Updated :Dec 30 2022 | 2:04 PM IST
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GM mustard (DMH-11) may not solve India's edible oil import problem: ICAR

3 min read Last Updated :Dec 24 2022 | 8:23 PM IST
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Volume IconWhat is a genetically modified crop? And why is it important to India?

1 min read Last Updated :Dec 20 2022 | 1:09 PM IST
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Skewing the mustard field: The Yellow Revolution's revival needed

6 min read Last Updated :Dec 13 2022 | 10:34 PM IST
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A welcome shift

3 min read Last Updated :Dec 13 2022 | 10:30 PM IST
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GM mustard safe for food, feed use and cultivation, says govt

3 min read Last Updated :Dec 08 2022 | 11:22 PM IST
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