Genetically-modified mustard is a step closer to becoming the first food crop in India to be approved for commercial production. A panel of scientists said that it poses no risks to humans and added that the oilseed “does not raise any public health or safety concerns on human beings and animals with respect to overall nutritional characteristics.” They announced this in a document posted on the website of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The document also said that it’s “highly unlikely to invade natural ecosystems and poses negligible risk to biodiversity and agriculture productivity”.
With the panels approval, this brings mustard a step closer to gaining state approval, which would make it the first food crop approved after the government rejected Bt Brinjal, an eggplant developed by Mahrashtra Hybrid Seeds Co. In 2010. Currently, the country is depending on imported mustard oil, but this engineered mustard will increase production within the country. Adviser to the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association, Chengal Reddy told Bloomberg, “Making genetically-modified mustard seed available to Indian farmers will have an enormous economic benefit, increasing substantially farmers’ income by as much as 50 percent.”
At present, India’s vegetable oil import bill is at 750 billion rupees, Mr. Reddy said, and this seed will reduce it by as much as 150 billion rupees.