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GM Mustard faces new hurdles: Eight more tests, risk report

Before the fresh review procedure starts, the committee will meet first — likely on March 3 — to finalise the modalities for preparing the RARM report “including roles, responsibilities, consultation, time lines etc”.

Written by Amitabh Ranjan | New Delhi | Updated: February 15, 2016 8:36 am
india, genetically modified, gm mustard, india gm crops, GMo seeds, bt cotton, bt brinjal, bangladesh golden rice, agriculture news, india news, latest news A mustard field in full bloom at Batapora in Srinagar, Kashmir. (Source: Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

In a move that has effectively placed commercial cultivation of GM Mustard in cold storage for now, biotech regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has outlined several steps before the hybrid could be brought back to the table for a review.

Besides suggesting eight time-consuming additional bio-informatic tests for inclusion in the seed’s biosafety dossier, the GEAC on February 5 asked the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) to prepare a Risk Assessment and Risk Management (RARM) document.

It set a timeline of two weeks for  submission of the revised biosafety dossier but separately recommended a long winding procedure for “further review and consultation” on the biosafety data.

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“The revised dossier received from the applicant would be considered by the Sub-Committee and a Biosafety RARM report would be prepared for consideration of the GEAC,” it said.

The report would have to incorporate all concerns raised by Coalition for GM-Free India, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, various representations and even comments in the media.

Subsequent to the review, and if the biosafety dossier is found to be complete in all respects, the GEAC has recommended that both dossier and RARM report — minus certain confidential segments — be put out in the public domain for comments.

However, no information would be posted while the review is still under progress, said the biotech regulator.

“A detailed response to the comments received would be prepared and considered before a final decision is taken by the GEAC,” says a note from the Environment Ministry.

Bowing to the widespread opposition by farmers and NGOs, the GEAC “also agreed that an opportunity for personal hearing may be provided as and when requested”.

After the GEAC meeting on February 5, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had said his ministry would not rush into any decision or “impose decisions without wide consultations”.

Before the fresh review procedure starts, the committee will meet first — likely on March 3 — to finalise the modalities for preparing the RARM report “including roles, responsibilities, consultation, time lines etc”.

The GEAC, meanwhile, has now decided to meet every month, which is its original mandate, with the first Friday of each month set as the meeting date. Last year, the GEAC met only twice.

The spat over GM Mustard DMH-11 has turned into a national debate even though this variety is being developed by Delhi University’s CGMCP which has pledged to distribute it for free. The project is funded by DU’s Department of Biotechnology and the National Dairy Development Board.

Supporters of GM mustard — which has the potential of increasing yield by 25 per cent — say it is required in India as the country is still dependent on edible oil imports. India’s rapeseed-mustard seed production stood at 63.09 lakh tonnes in 2014-15 crop year (July-June).

This is the first proposal that has come up before the NDA government after the previous regime had put a moratorium on commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in 2010. Currently, Bt cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation.

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  1. A
    Feb 15, 2016 at 5:26 am
    (Bt Cotton has totally destro the COTTON FARMING in India.) (More than 1.5 lakh cotton farmers skunked by the misleading ads have committed suicide in India) (Corrupt politicians like Pawars, Manmohan etc are abetting the percolation of GMOs in India) (ENTIRE INDIA SHOULD STAND UNITED and OPPOSE THE ENTRY OF ANY GMOs IN INDIA and DRIVE OUT THE GM COTTON TOO)
    1. R
      Jul 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm
      Being India - watch out for Corruption, Lies and official Cover Ups.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;The CENTRAL Core Issues always are and will remain the SOCIAL Issues involved re. GM Crops.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;1. Adequacy / completeness of Testing. Not the stupid 90 day safety trials and testing period proposed by Monsanto.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;2. Where is the mother gene pool for mustard ? ie Maximum diversity. In Brinjals it was India. And No Nation would or should pollute its mother gene pool of that crop - just as it should never hv been considered for brinjals - where the mother Gene pool planet wide lies in India / Bangladesh.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;To replace THAT diversity by a Genetic monoculture - Bt - is and remains..Pure Madness. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Ans to the Qns as to the source of pollen and pollinators for GM Mustard - are 100% relevant . Why haven't they been addressed / articulated ?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;3 Who are the Real beneficiaries - even the Hidden Ones - behind this technology ? Who stand to benefit from its commercialisation.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;4. WHY was the herbicide tolerance aspect hidden / undisclosed ? Looks like the Thin Edge of the Wedge. For Multinationals to Use - to PRISE their way into this market. Is it so ?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;5. Deepak Pental was around when I was in DU. Can't say how impeccable his work and conduct have been. But it merits close scrutiny. Given that ..this is INDIA.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;6. Yes we need to lead globally in this emerging Tech area. Safely. In principle, provided it can be demonstrated authoritatively - that genetic manition / modification/ tampering of existing cell mechanisms - has created No Harmful effect(s) residual for humans or animals - THAT IS the real TEST -!! - ONLY then should it be used selectively and v carefully, so as Not to Pollute the planets Natural hybrids from any such pollution or monoculture spreading g.
      1. R
        Jul 20, 2016 at 12:35 pm
        Lastly - if C-GMCP is the Patent holder - or is it someone else - and/or NDDB or Govt of India - viz the Indian people - why a limited 30 minute period in which to point out Objections ?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;This is typical of USA Corporate practices - to shut off and silence Dissent and even Valid Criticism of Concerns over GM Mustard !!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;WHAT is the TEARING Hurry / Rush to close out All Debate and Discussion all-India - and limit the Discussion period to 30 minutes. And Xyz days.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;WHY the Rush to Market ?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Something Smells Fishy !!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Remember - the old GEAC Had to be Disbanded / Round Up - because the members were openly fudging data, as well as acting out Conflicts of Interest - in place of GM Interests like Monsanto et al. And their OWN corruption.lt;br/gt;Being ON GEAC -for Regulation - and on the other side secretly Owning Cos and Owning / Holding Interests in the GM Business itself. !!lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Lastly - the recent News of the / bid - for Monsanto by Bayer, and the supposedly secret of the Swiss MNC ..GMO Orgn Syngenta to the Chinese Govt Sector - Sinochem or CNPC ? - or similar State PRC outfits - lt;br/gt;needs detailed examination. As well as much public discussion - to figure out Exactly WHAT is Going ON. this sector.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Time for stock taking, reflection, and watching and waiting. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;NOT a Time ..to Rush In like Fools ..where Angels Fear to Tread !! lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Not Callous reaction, but Reflective food for Thought. Before ANY Action can be contemplated.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Make Haste...SLOWLY..!!
        1. B
          Feb 15, 2016 at 1:46 am
          Why all this drama if us corporations want you to use it you better use it or they will send you to indrs and rsjive
          1. D
            Feb 15, 2016 at 5:44 am
            What ever data available or not available are immaterial as far as the production of crops concerned. Honey bees are most important one in increasing the production in more than 60 species of the field and plantation crops on the earth sphere absence of which nothing will come to our kitchens. A corporate after knowing the impact of modification of the crops on honey bees they developed a gadget to pollinate the crop. Such a gadget will never replace natural pollinators. Let the man behind the GM mustard come with the information on the composition of the pollen grains first and then others. It has been well proved that the change in the composition of GM Crops causes the decline of the potion of honey bee (Ecotoxicology and Environment Safty 70:323-333(2008).If bees go we will all go sooner or later. It is better to drop the Herbicide tolerant Mustard. The seed of which should not be given either on free of cost or subsidize rate. It should be burnt for the sake of giving food to all in India
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