TESTS ON GM MUSTARD SOUGHT IN INDIA
Tests on genetically modified mustard sought
The Hindu, Tuesday, Sep 24, 2002
NEW DELHI SEPT. 23. Gene Campaign, an NGO, has been asked to make public the data on a genetically modified (GM) mustard sought to be introduced in the country by Proagro, a subsidiary of the multinational company, Aventis, allegedly without the mandatory food and feed safety trials. Mustard is an edible oil and as such tests in the public domain are absolutely necessary, the NGO said, claiming that the performance of this GM variety was inferior to the Indian varieties.
At a press conference here today, Suman Sahai of the Gene Campaign said that the Monitoring and Evaluation Committee and the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Government were all set to grant approval to the MNC on its variety of GM mustard, without any "pollen flow studies" being conducted by public research scientists.
Demanding that the monitoring of the trials be done by an "independent panel'' of scientists and experts, Dr. Sahai said all the non-GM mustard in the vicinity of transgenic trials should be tested and the data made public.
"The mustard variety belonging to Aventis/Proagro has herbicide tolerance genes but no aerial spray of herbicides is carried out in the country. Besides, many Indian varieties are better than this variety in terms of yield, and hybrid varieties were being developed by the Government research institutes,'' she said.
Dr. Sahai said the variety had not gone through the All India Coordinated Crop Trials, which should be usually done over three years. Trials should be in all the zones at 40-50 locations. Instead, the MNC trials were conducted only in three zones for one season and in four locations and studies were conducted by Proagro itself in private labs. She demanded that the source of the samples, controls and the testing locations be made public."Bt cotton has been shown to be a disaster in the field this year and Proagro's GM mustard is provenly inferior to existing Indian varieties," she alleged and demanded re-constitution of the approval-giving GEAC.
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