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Posted at: Nov 23, 2015, 1:08 AM; last updated: Nov 23, 2015, 1:04 AM (IST)

Agriculture Minister says no to GM mustard

Says he was not taken into confidence during trials

Current status of GM mustard

  • Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the nodal agency for any open release of GM crops in the country, is in an advance stage of giving approval to GM mustard cultivation. GEAC is under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. If approved, GM mustard will become the first GM food crop to be released for commercial cultivation in India.

Know GM crops

  • Punjab and Haryana account for more than 8% of the total mustard production in the country
  • In 2010, the Indian public had unambiguously expressed its objection to GM organisms in farms and food. This had resulted in the blocking of Bt brinjal
  • So far, Bt cotton is the only genetically modified crop which is allowed for commercial cultivation. It was allowed in Punjab in 2005

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 22

Punjab’s Agriculture Minister Tota Singh has ordered the cancellation of all approvals or any future field trials for genetically modified (GM) mustard.

The minister has taken the decision as he was not taken into confidence during the field trials of GM mustard in Punjab early this year.

The minister has asked the Agriculture Department as well as Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, to not allow any further clearance to GM mustard.

According to sources in the Agriculture Department, the minister held a meeting with officials of the department on Wednesday in which he instructed that it be conveyed to Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, not to conduct any further trials of the GM mustard and cancel all the approvals given earlier for the trials.

“I was not aware that any such field trials related of genetically modified mustard were conducted in Punjab. As soon as I came to know of it, I instructed the concerned officials to cancel all the approvals,” said Agriculture Minister Tota Singh.

The minister said that as there is debate about the adverse effects of genetically modified crops on human health as well as on the environment, he has ordered that no field trials should be allowed before the Health Department gives its clearance.

The field trials of GM mustard were conducted in March at PAU’s main centre in Ludhiana and PAU Regional Research Station, Bathinda. Some organic farming groups had reported violations in the field trial in Bathinda and had lodged a complaint against it.

Umendra Dutt of Kheti Virasat Mission, an organic farming group, said that there were serious violations during the conduct of trials. The district-level coordination, mandatory for approval of field trial of any genetically modified crop, was not in place.

“Punjab was the only state that permitted open-field trials of this crop while neighbouring states like Rajasthan and Haryana had denied permission for it,” said Dutt.

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