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Ex-principal scientific adviser backs nod to GM Mustard | India News – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Backing the central biotech regulator’s move on allowing environmental release of GM mustard for its seed production and testing that may eventually lead to its commercial cultivation, the former principal scientific adviser (PSA) to the government K Vijay Raghavan has said the “mustard farmers are ready for a change” as the transgenic variety would provide them higher yield with low input costs.
Referring to history of its development and processes involved in certifying its safety aspect, Raghavan in a series of tweets on the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) decision flagged records of safe consumption of GE rapeseed oil and meal in many countries.
Citing global examples to address concerns over the biosafety aspect, he on Wednesday tweeted that rapeseed hybrids based on barnase/barstar system have been released and grown in Canada since 1996, the USA since 2002, and Australia since 2007.
“No ill effects have been reported since the first release in 1996,” said the former PSA, noting that Canada alone exported 7 million tonne of seed and 2.3 million tonne of oil.
He also explained how it would be beneficial for farmers in terms of higher yields without any additional input of water, fertiliser, or pesticides.
Allaying concerns of farm activists, even the GEAC in its note on October 18 said the approval would be revoked if there was any evidence regarding harmful effects of the approved GE mustard comes to its notice.
“The approval may be revoked under Rule 13(2) of Rules, 1989, if any evidences regarding harmful effects of the approved GE mustard, such as damage to the environment, nature or health, as could not be envisaged when the approval was given, comes under notice of GEAC and on noncompliance of any condition stipulated by GEAC,” said the regulator while recommending environmental release of transgenic mustard on October 18.
The environment ministry subsequently on October 25 informed Deepak Pental, former professor of genetics and vice-chancellor of Delhi University, who led the team of scientists at Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) that developed the GM mustard — about the GEAC’s decision as well as the 16 conditions which the gene developers have to adhere to for seed production.
Besides giving its nod for environmental release of GM Mustard (DMH-11), the GEAC also allowed environmental release of genetically engineered mustard “parental lins bn 3.6 carrying barnase and bar genes, and modbs 2.99 containing barstar and bar genes”. This decision was taken so that these events can be used for developing new parental lines and hybrids under supervision of ICAR.

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