In one of the clearest signs of the Centre’s intention to push genetically modified mustard, Union Minister for Environment and Forests, Anil Madhav Dave said that all public health related issues about the crop have been “adequately addressed”.
“All the members of GEAC and its sub-committees have been regularly and actively involved at several stages in the assessment of food safety of GM mustard,” the minister said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
“Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) and its sub-committees involve representatives of National Institute of Nutrition (NIN), Bio-Medical Group of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Ministry of Health and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),” Dave said.
He added, “All public health-related issues have been adequately addressed for the GM Mustard, through the regulatory pipeline process…
“…As per the Rules for the manufacture, use/import/ export and storage of hazardous microorganisms/genetically engineered organisms or cells 1989 (Rules 1989) made under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986,” he said.
He said the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) an institute of Indian Council of Medical Research was engaged in undertaking compositional analysis, allergenicity and toxicity assessment and animal studies of GE Mustard.
He also said the Environment Ministry’s bio-safety dossier, which was uploaded for public comments, had received over 700 posts.
Replying to another question, he said at present no field trial is underway on GE Mustard and the application for environmental release of GE Mustard given by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation and Crop Plants (CGMCP) of University of Delhi has undergone bio-safety assessments for necessary examination by GEAC.
He said some concerns and apprehensions have been raised by NGOs on biosafety of GM Mustard and to understand the concerns, GEAC provided them an opportunity to two groups to share their apprehensions.
GEAC reviewed the application submitted by CGMCP in its 126th meeting in January and constituted a sub-committee to review the dossier. Accordingly a sub-committee prepared an assessment of Food and Environmental safety document and submitted it to the GEAC for evaluation.
“The AFES document prepared by sub committee on GM Mustard was placed on the website of the Ministry for a period of 30 days from September 5 to October 5 this for inviting public comments from stakeholders.
“Entire dossier submitted by CGMCP was also made available for review by public during consultation period. A total of 759 comments have been received from various stakeholders and 29 people in person reviewed the dossier,” he said.