In May, the government panel had cleared commercial release of GM Mustard with certain conditions
GM mustard would have been the first transgenic food crop to be allowed for commercial cultivation. Credit: Wikimedia Commons
In a major turnaround of events, the government has put on hold the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard, which got technical clearance last year. The Environment Ministry document released on Tuesday (October 24) showed that the government had to put the decision on backburner due to stiff opposition from anti-GM activists and NGOs.
An official document of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which contains the minutes of the May 11 GEAC meeting, read: "Subsequent to receipt of various representations from different stakeholders, matters related to environmental release of transgenic Mustard are kept pending for further review."
This comes after it was earlier reported that the GEAC has recommended approval of the commercial use of GM mustard. According to media reports, a senior official in the ministry, who is privy to the developments, admitted that the line, “The GEAC has recommended the approval of commercial release of GM Mustard with certain conditions,” was omitted by mistake.
“It is a status quo. We are being told that another version of the minutes is likely to be released today. We will hold them to what they had originally said. We will continue our fight to endure that GM Mustard is rejected and no GMO is approved,” says Kavitha Kuruganti, an activist who has been at the forefront of this anti-GM protests.
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GM mustard would have been the first transgenic food crop to be allowed for commercial cultivation. The Union Government has been aggressively pushing for GM Mustard as a part of its plan to boost biotechnology sector in India. Despite the government putting its bets on GM Mustard, a poor experience with BT cotton made farmers and agricultural experts sceptical about its prospects.
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