Limited herbicide usage to seed production in case of GM mustard: Centre to RS | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Limited herbicide usage to seed production in case of GM mustard: Centre to RS

ByJayashree Nandi
Dec 09, 2022 09:16 AM IST

Minister of state for MoEFCC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India), Ashwini Kumar Choubey said this in response to a question by Aneel Prasad Hegde, MP from Bihar

Use of herbicide glufosinate ammonium in genetically modified mustard DMH 11 will be limited to seed production stage by the seed producing company and not during commercial cultivation, union environment ministry informed Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

A farmer casts urea on her mustard field in this file picture. (Reuters file image)
A farmer casts urea on her mustard field in this file picture. (Reuters file image)

Minister of state for MoEFCC (Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of India), Ashwini Kumar Choubey said this in response to a question by Aneel Prasad Hegde, MP from Bihar.

Hegde had asked two questions, first, whether the bar gene in parental lines and hybrid offspring of Delhi University’s GM mustard confers herbicide tolerance to genetically modified mustard plants and whether India has put into place regulatory protocols to specifically test for the safety of HT GM crops as opposed to any other GM crop 3.

Also Read:Bihar: Ex-agri minister urges CM Nitish Kumar to ban GM mustard; threatens stir

“The bar gene in Mustard hybrid DMH-11 is expressed which encodes phosphinothricin N-acetyl transferase enzyme that confers resistant to herbicide glufosinate ammonium. Genetically Modified (GM) Hybrid Mustard DMH11 has not been approved for Herbicide Tolerant (HT) trait but for a GM technology for hybrid seed production,” Choubey said in reply.

“The HT characteristic/trait present in the GM mustard hybrid seed is essential for eliminating fertile plants that are not transgenic in the hybrid seed production plots to maintain the purity of hybrid seed. The use of herbicide will be limited to seed production stage by the seed producing company/institute and not during the commercial cultivation of DMH-11 by the farmers. The use of herbicide will be after obtaining label claim and approval from Central Insecticide Board & Registration Committee (CIB&RC). The biosafety research trials including environmental safety studies have been conducted for transgenic mustard hybrid DMH-11 …the issue of environmental release of GM Mustard is under adjudication in the Writ Petition (Civil) 115/2004 and Writ Petition(Civil) 260 of 2005 titled as Gene Campaign Vs. UoI & Ors. and Aruna Rodrigues Vs. UoI & Ors., respectively before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,” he added.

On December 5, over 100 medical professionals from different disciplines wrote to PM Narendra Modi about the concerns around the herbicide tolerant quality of DMH 11.

“In the case of GM mustard, a patently untenable claim is being made including in submissions to the Supreme Court that the herbicide glufosinate will only be used for seed production and that farmers will be prevented by legislation from spraying it for weed control. Illegal HT cotton and illegal spraying of the dangerous herbicide glyphosate has been taking place for the past decade or more, without Governments being able to stop it. Once environmentally released, GM mustard will spread and so will the use of glufosinate. Our entire population consumes mustard as seeds, leaves and oil. As medical professionals, we feel it is our duty to warn about the serious adverse impacts of Herbicide Tolerant GM crops,” they wrote in the letter.

According to US based non-profit Beyond Pesticides, herbicide tolerant crops are designed to tolerate specific broad-spectrum herbicides, which kill the surrounding weeds, but leave the cultivated crop intact. In case of DMH 11, that herbicide is glufosinate ammonium.

In response to another query on GM Mustard, Choubey said, “Globally Genetically Engineered (GE) crops are cultivated in 190.5 million ha of which HT crops occupy 85.1 million hectares i.e., about 45% of the global transgenic crop area. In USA, HT corn, HT cotton and HT soybean area increased and over the past 25 years, and today more than 90% of area under these crops are HT varieties.”

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