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Transgenic Mustard Hybrid

22nd February, 2024 Agriculture

Transgenic Mustard Hybrid

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In News

  • Deepak Pental's application for the environmental release of transgenic mustard hybrid, Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11), was approved by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on October 25, 2023.
  • This allows for open-field trials, demonstrations, and seed production before commercial cultivation approval.

Field Trials and Opposition

  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) planned field trials in Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh at 100 locations.
  • A group under the Coalition for a GM-Free India moved the Supreme Court, leading ICAR to postpone field trials.

Need for GM Mustard and Controversy

  • Mustard contributes 40% of India's edible oils. By 2025-26, India will need 34 million tonnes of edible oils.
  • GM mustard (DMH-11) could potentially raise yields to 3-3.5 tonnes per hectare and resist pests like white rust.
  • Opposition cites concerns over foreign genetic materials, impact on honeybees, and bypassing bio-safety protocols.

Impact on Honey Production and Export

  • Farmers fear further drop in honey production as with Bt Cotton.
  • Almost half of India's 150,000 tonnes of honey is exported under non-GMO verification programs.
  • GM mustard's approval may threaten apiculture export.

Concerns Raised by Scientists

  • Pests and insects may grow resistant to transgenic crops, necessitating newer seed versions.
  • GM mustard may lead to horizontal gene transfer among plants, causing growth of invasive weeds.
  • Herbicide glufosanite ammonium used on GM mustard may enter the food system with unknown health impacts.

Need for Long-term Safety and Profitability Studies

  • ICAR claims DMH-11 will have a 28% yield advantage over its parent, Varuna.
  • However, comparison with other high-yielding varieties reveals poor performance.
  • Concrete measures are needed to establish the long-term safety and profitability of transgenic varieties.

READ GM CROPS: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/gm-crops-40#:~:text=GM%20food%20involves%20the%20editing,resistant%20to%20a%20particular%20disease.


Status of Transgenic Crops in India

  • Transgenic technology is being used for crops like brinjal, tomato, maize, and chickpea, but only cotton is commercially cultivated.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) approved the environmental release of Mustard hybrid DMH-11 for seed production and testing, one step away from commercial cultivation.

Regulation Process for Transgenic Crops

  • Developing transgenic crops involves inserting genes into plants for a sustained, protective response.
  • Multiple safety assessments are done by committees before further tests in open plots, located at agricultural universities or ICAR-controlled plots.
  • Commercial clearance is granted only if the transgenic plant proves better than non-GM variants without posing ecological harm.

Rejection by Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Telangana

  • Hyderabad-based Bioseed Research India developed Cry2Ai cotton seed, resistant to pink bollworm.
  • Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Telangana rebuffed the GEAC's proposal for field trials, citing concerns.
  • Haryana was the only state to grant permission for trials.

Changes in Regulation Process

  • The GEAC is considering declaring some regions as 'notified testing sites' to bypass state permissions for trials.
  • Activists criticize the GEAC's approach and demand more transparency in decision-making.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex regulatory body in India that evaluates proposals relating to the release of genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) into the environment.

Establishment: Established under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), the GEAC was formed in 1989 under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Role and Functions:

    • Risk Assessment: Conducts risk assessments of GMOs to ensure they are safe for the environment, biodiversity, and human health.
    • Evaluation: Evaluates the potential benefits and risks associated with the release of GMOs.
    • Regulatory Approval: Grants approval for the environmental release of GMOs after thorough evaluation.
    • Monitoring: Monitors the environmental impact of GMOs post-release and takes necessary actions if adverse effects are observed.

Approval Process: Applicants seeking approval for the release of GMOs submit detailed proposals to the GEAC, which then evaluates the proposals based on scientific evidence and regulatory guidelines.

Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)

Introduction: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) is an autonomous body under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (DARE), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India. It is responsible for coordinating agricultural education and research in the country.

Establishment: ICAR was established on July 16, 1929, as a registered society under the Societies Registration Act, 1860.

Mandate: The primary mandate of ICAR is to:

    • Conduct research and development in agriculture and allied fields.
    • Provide education and training in agriculture.
    • Disseminate agricultural information.
    • Promote sustainable agricultural practices.

Structure: ICAR is headquartered in New Delhi and operates through a network of institutes, national research centers, agricultural universities, and Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) across the country. 


Q. Describe the current status and regulatory framework of transgenic crops in India. Highlight the key challenges and controversies surrounding their cultivation and adoption. Propose measures to address these issues and ensure the safe and sustainable use of transgenic crops in the country.