New Delhi,(PTI) Genetically Engineered (GE) Mustard has been assessed over a period of ten years for safety to environment and human health under the oversight of 3-tier statutory regulatory committees with external experts, the government today said.
“Under the rules for manufacturing, use/import/export and storage of hazardous microorganisms/genetically modified engineered organisms or cells (Rules 1989) of Environment Protection Act 1986, all genetically engineered products have to undergo a step-by-step food and environmental safety assessment in accordance with technical guidelines published from time to time.
“Following this process, the GE Mustard has been assessed over a period of ten years for safety to environment and human health under the oversight of three-tier statutory regulatory committees with external experts from laboratory to confined biosafety research field trials,” Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha.
He said his ministry on its website has published a detailed assessment of food and environmental safety document on GE Mustard for written public comments.
“This document explains in detail the basis for ecological safety of GE mustard based on molecular characterisation and evaluation of weediness potential, crossability and gene flow studies, studies on soil microbial community and pest disease and beneficial organisms,” he said.
Various farmers organisations, including that affiliated to RSS, and environmental activists have been opposing commercial cultivation of GM mustard.
The countrys biotech regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has recently sought public comments on the safety aspects on GM mustard variety developed by Delhi Universitys Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants.
Following this, the Environment Ministry has received over 700 comments from various stakeholders, including farmers and researchers, on the assessment of food and environmental safety (AFES) report on environmental release of genetically engineered mustard.
With anti-GM activists opposing the approval for GM mustard and upping their ante against the “unscientific” appraisal process, the Environment Ministry had said that after evaluating all the comments, the sub-committee will submit its final report to the biotech regulator GEAC.