India’s mustard honey exports are likely to be hit if genetically modified (GM) mustard seed is allowed for commercial cultivation as it is harmful for the honey making industry, an expert said. The country’s mustard honey is in more demand in the global market. Almost the entire domestic production of about 40,000 tonnes is shipped to countries like the US and Europe, as per government data. “GM mustard will impact pollen and nectar collection by honey bees. This will result in lower mustard honey production and exports,” Honey bee expert Yogeshwar Singh told PTI.
This will also disturb India’s export market as the importing nations might impose further stringent shipment norms for honey and make the trade difficult, he said.
Presently, the US and Europe ask for non-GM labelled honey, for which samples are tested in two private testing agencies in Germany and thereafter the shipments are undertaken. Even, testing costs are also high, he added.
Echoing the views, Shiv Gramodyog Sansthan Secretary Devrat Sharma said about 50 kg honey is produced by honey bees from desi mustard crop, while it is only 25 kg from hybrid mustard crop due to reduction in the flowering period.
There is a need to protect domestic honey makers industry, being promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a big way to boost farmers’ income, he said.
About 90,000 tonnes of honey of all varieties is produced annually in the country. There are about 30 lakh honey bee colonies and five lakh people are engaged in the business.
Last month, an expert panel — Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) — has recommended use of GM mustard seed for commercial cultivation, a final decision on which is yet to be taken by the Environment Ministry.
Meanwhile, there is lot of protest against it by green-activists and honeybee industry.