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Make GM mustard data public, biotech regulator tells developers

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under Environment Ministry met Monday met to consider the pending decision on GM mustard and to take up fresh applications for research trials of new GM crops.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: June 21, 2016 1:55:17 am
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The country’s top biotechnology regulatory body Monday asked developers of a genetically-modified mustard variety to place documentation related to the variety in public domain in the next few weeks to facilitate a fresh round of public consultation.

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) under Environment Ministry met Monday met to consider the pending decision on GM mustard and to take up fresh applications for research trials of new GM crops.

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The GM variant of mustard, called DMH11 (Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11), has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at the Delhi University. It has gone through Biosafety Research Level-1 (BRL-1) tests in 2011-12 and 2012-13, and through the BRL-2 tests in the 2014-15 season. An expected clearance for commercial cultivation of the crop by GEAC in February year was deferred following protests from NGOs and activists.

Anti-GM NGOs landed up at the GEAC meeting Monday as well, asking to be heard. Sources said they were asked to make their case in 30 minutes, the same time that was offered to a farmers’ representative organisation that had come.

The NGOs, however, asked for at least two hours to put their point across, but it was not granted. Unhappy, the anti-GM activists called the DMH-11 a “major scientific fraud” at a press conference that had been scheduled well in advance.

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