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Current Affairs 2023

Union Environment Ministry Rebuts Claims of Violations in GM Mustard Approval Process - UPSC Current Affairs

The Union Environment Ministry has denied allegations that statutory regulations were violated during the appraisal and approval of genetically modified mustard in India, claiming that the product was conditionally cleared only after stakeholder consultation. The ministry also rejected the claim that no independent health experts participated in the GM mustard appraisal process, saying that the assessment report was uploaded on the ministry's website for public review and the seeds were sent to the ICAR-Directorate of Rapeseed Mustard Research after formal approval.

Jan 10, 2023

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Genetically Modified (GM) mustard has been a controversial topic in India for several years. Recently, a report released by the Coalition of GM-free India, a group of NGOs opposing genetically modified crops, alleged that statutory regulations were violated during the appraisal and approval of GM mustard in India. In response, the Union Environment Ministry released a statement asserting that the product was conditionally cleared only after stakeholder consultation.

 

The process of assessing GM mustard's safety and potential impact on the environment began in 2016, when the Assessment of Food and Environmental Safety (AFES) report was prepared by a sub-committee. This report was made available for public review and comment for a period of 30 days on the ministry's website and in their office. Additionally, the conditional environmental release of GM mustard was granted only after stakeholder consultations as per the Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) guidance documents.

 

The Coalition of GM-free India also claimed that GM mustard did not get tested as a herbicide-tolerant (HT) crop, however, the ministry stated that the use of the term "herbicide tolerant" for GM mustard is not appropriate, as the herbicide tolerant trait present in GM mustard is only a selection marker used during the development phase of the product. Furthermore, the ministry also denied the claim that the approval of GM mustard ignored that agriculture is a state subject. The Biosafety Research Level-I and Biosafety Research Level-II trials were conducted after obtaining no-objection certificates from state governments.

 

It is important to note that the conditional approval for the release of GM mustard is still subject to the clearance from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, which is yet to be obtained. As the topic of GM crops remains a contentious issue, it's important that all stakeholders are consulted and all necessary regulations and guidelines are followed before any final decisions are made.

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