GM mustard no solution for Indias Rs 64,000 cr edible oil import bill
On 11 May, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee – Indias biotech regulator, approved the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) mustard, Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH)-11.DMH-11 and GM cotton, Indias only transgenic crop so far, have something in common-a gene conferring resistance to the herbicide glufosinate.
Six days later, European parliamentarians voted against allowing the import of products made from GM cotton because that could encourage the use of glufosinate on the continent. Glufosinate is classified as toxic for reproduction in Europe.
Why is India embracing the more widespread use of glufosinateand that too, for a food cropwhen Europe is shunning the product?
Dr Deepak Pental of the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi South Campus, where DMH-11 was developed, said: Glufosinate will only be used in seed production, not in farmers fields because mustard has no serious weed issue needing the herbicide.
When asked if an alternative herbicide to glufosinate for seed production exists, he replied No.
Indian farmers arent buying that argument having burnt their fingers with Bt cotton, GM cotton named for the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, the source of another gene transferred to the seed for its insecticidal action against the larvae of the bollworm, a crop-destroying moth that especially targets cotton.