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Centre defends GM Mustard in SC; Next hearing this week

Anand P Upadhyay
New Delhi | 14 Nov 2022

The Supreme Court extended the ban on the planting of genetically modified (GM) mustard by a week and the case will now be heard on November 17 as Centre’s affidavit filed a day earlier was yet to be taken on record.

Defending the decision of clearing GM Mustard cultivation, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in an affidavit filed before the apex court said that domestic production of GM Mustard would reduce India’s dependency on other countries from where it is importing large quantities of edible oil to meet domestic demand.

At present, India meets nearly 55-60 per cent of its edible oil demand through imports, the affidavit mentioned.

Centre had to file an affidavit after the decision of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) of the Union environment ministry approving the commercial cultivation of GM mustard was challenged in the apex court.

The decision of GEAC is facing opposition from green groups which say commercial cultivation of GM mustard could have an adverse impact on human health and food security.

The transgenic mustard hybrid, DMH-11, has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) at Delhi University.

Affidavit submitted that the imported edible oil was largely from GM oilseeds. About 55, 000 MT Canola oil and 2.8 Lakh tonnes of Soyabean oil that India imports is largely from GM seeds only.

Ministry claimed, mustard is the most important edible oil and seed meal crop of India but the yields of mustard are stagnating even though its area under irrigation has increased to 83 per cent of the total area under mustard.

“An agricultural reform like growing GM oilseed crops like mustard will be useful,” asserted the affidavit.