Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) will soon convene special meeting of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to decide on field-trial approvals for transgenic mustard DMH-11 developed by University of Delhi’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP).
CGMCP had earlier applied to grow transgenic mustard (DMH-11) in plots in Delhi and Punjab to test plant’s effects on honeybees after GEAC had initially cleared GM crop for commercial cultivation. But later GEAC had backtracked and demanded more tests of transgenic mustard and asked for additional data on honeybees and other pollinators and on soil microbial diversity after some members objected to use of unapproved pesticides/herbicides including banned Endosulfan in project proposal. Some members also had voiced objections over lack of time to examine field safety protocol which specifies what measures can be undertaken in case of pest attack.
GM Mustard DMH-11
DMH (Dhara Mustard Hybrid)-11 is genetically modified variety of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) mustard. It was developed by team of scientists from Delhi University’s CGMCP led by former Vice-Chancellor Deepak Pental under Government sponsored project. It was created by using “barnase/barstar” technology for genetic modification by adding genes from soil bacterium that makes mustard self-pollinating plant. It contains three genes viz. Bar gene, Barnase and Barstar sourced from soil bacterium. The bar gene had made plant resistant to herbicide named Basta.
Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)
GEAC is apex body under Environment Ministry for regulating manufacturing, use, import, export and storage of hazardous micro-organisms or genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) and cells in the country. It is also responsible for giving technical approval of proposals relating to release of GMOs and products including experimental field trials.