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GM Mustard Gets Nod From GEAC

Indias central bio-tech regulator Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has cleared GM Mustard for environmental release and commercial cultivation. The apex regulator for GM( Genetically Modified) crops recommended it s approval to the Ministry of Environment. Now the final decision has to be taken by environment minister Mr. Anil Dave. If the transgenic variety manages to get the approval from the minister as well, it will be India s first GM food crop to be allowed for commercial cultivation. Earlier in 2010 , the GEAC had cleared the transgenic food crop Bt Brinjal, however it was not approved by the then environment minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh, citing lack of sufficient scientific data and paucity of safety tests. At present, GM Cotton is the only transgenic crop which is commercially cultivated.

The new variety of  mustard - Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11) – has been developed by Centre of Genetic Crop Plants at Delhi University under the stewardship of Prof. Deepak Pental, former vice-chancellor of DU. Researchers have used  barnase/ barstar   technology for genetic modification. Mustard is generally a self-pollinating plant and a system of genes from soil bacterium Bacillus amyloliquefaciens could make it better suited to hybridization.

According to GEAC chairperson Amita Prasad, GM mustard has been cleared for four years subjected to certain field conditions. However, activists from anti GM platforms have opposed the move. The coalition for GM-free India claimed that the yield of DMH-11 is not better than existing varieties.

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