The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under the environment ministry is about to approve commercialisation of a genetically modified (GM) variant of mustard food crop developed by Delhi University (DU), civil society groups said on Wednesday.
"DU's GM mustard is essentially a backdoor entry for herbicide-tolerant crops into India, in the guise of a public sector GM crop," said Rajesh Krishnan, convenor of Coalition for GM Free India.
He said commercialisation would serve no purpose other than to increase profits for corporate food manufacturers. India is the third largest producer of the crop internationally. The GM mustard - Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11 or DMH 11 - has been developed by DU's Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants with support from the Department of Biotechnology and National Dairy Development Board.
"The entire bio-safety assessment of this GM mustard is shrouded in secrecy with repeated efforts including RTI requests to seek information on the statutory safety assessments having remained unanswered from GEAC," said Kavitha Kuruganti, convenor, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture.
Ministry officials concerned did not respond to phone calls made by Business Standard.
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