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Punjab govt not to conduct field trials of GM mustard

The Minister said that the state government would like to promote organic farming cultivation in the state

Press Trust of India  |  Chandigarh 

Punjab govt not to conduct field trials of GM mustard

Punjab government today issued directions to Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) not to conduct further field trials of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop, following the concerns expressed by civil society group.

"I have asked Financial Commissioner (Development), Punjab, to direct PAU not to go ahead with further field trials of GM mustard crop", Punjab Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said today.

He took this decision after hearing the representation of civil society group led by 'Coalition for a GM Free India' which raised bio safety and health concerns over the GM mustard crop.

According to Co-convener of Coalition for a GM Free India, Kavitha Kuruganti, scientists of Delhi University had conducted field trials of GM mustard crop in Ludhiana and Bathinda under direct supervision of PAU scientists during November 2014 till March 2015.

"Punjab is the only state in the country where open field trials of GM mustard crop were carried out", she said.

Sharing concerns of the civil society group, the Minister said the Health ministry should also carry out trials or tests of the GM crop before it is allowed for commercial cultivation.

"Sarson Da Saag is an important dish in Punjab. And we want that there should not be any adverse impact on health with GM mustard crop. Therefore, the Centre's health ministry should also conduct tests before giving any approval for it," Punjab Agriculture Minister said.

The Minister said that the state government would like to promote organic farming cultivation in the state.

Meanwhile Kuruganti said that Centre should not allow the commercial cultivation of GM mustard crop at any cost.

She said that crop developer Delhi University scientists have approached regulatory body Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for allowing commercial cultivation of GM Mustard crop.

Accusing GEAC of being non-transparent and biased, she said, "it is outrageous that GM food crops are being pushed without adequate safety assessment and transparency. The entire bio safety assessment of this GM mustard is shrouded in secrecy.

"Repeated efforts including RTI applications seeking bio safety dossier of GM mustard have been stonewalled with the regulators declining to share information."

She said various European countries have already banned the cultivation of GM crops.

Umendra Dutt of Kheti Virasat Mission said Punjab and Haryana together account for more than eight per cent of total mustard production in the country and given its significance to farmers' livelihood as well as food basket, this GM crop is a grave danger to food safety and security.

Civil society group claimed that GM mustard DMH 11 (Dhara Mustard hybrid 11) has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, Delhi University with the support of Department of Biotechnology and National Dairy Development Board.

First Published: Wed, November 18 2015. 17:07 IST