GM mustard

OCT 21

Preliminary   > Science and Technology   >   Biotechnology   >   Genetic engineering

Why in news?

  • Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), has approved genetically modified (GM) mustard for commercial cultivation, paving the way for the country’s first transgenic food crop.
  • The GEAC said that the commercial use of DMH-11 hybrids will be subject to the Seed Act, 1966, and related rules and regulations.

About GM mustard:

  • Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11) is an indigenously developed transgenic mustard. It is a genetically modified variant of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) mustard.
  • DMH - 11 was created through transgenic technology, primarily involving the Bar, Barnase and Barstar gene system
    • Barnase and Barstar genes are isolated from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens
  • The DMH-11 has been developed using the genetic male sterility (GMS) technique to make herbicide resistant
    • The Barnase gene confers male sterility, while the Barstar gene restores DMH - 11's ability to produce fertile seeds.

Developed by:

  • It has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) at Delhi University.
  • In 2017, the GEAC recommended the commercial approval of the HT Mustard crop. However, the Supreme Court stayed its release and asked the central government to seek public opinion.

Concerns

  • The DMH-11 mustard variety is herbicide tolerant, allowing farmers to spray over the crops with weed killer without harming the crops. This has raised fears that farmers may resort to excessive use of toxic herbicides which can lead to weeds becoming resistant to them and the emergence of so-called superweeds.
  • Worried that a genetically modified mustard crop would impact honey production in India, honey cultivators have opposed the GM mustard variety and asked the government not to approve it for commercial cultivation.

Status of other GM Crops in India:

  • BT Cotton:
    • In order to tackle the bollworm attack that had devastated cotton crops in the past, Bt cotton was introduced which was jointly developed by the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company and the US seed company Monsanto.
    • In 2002, the GEAC approved Bt Cotton for commercial cultivation in 6 states
    • It has to be noted that, Bt cotton was the first transgenic crop approved by the GEAC.
  • BT Brinjal:
    • Mahyco jointly developed Bt Brinjal with the Dharwad University of Agricultural Sciences and the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.
    • Even though GEAC 2007 had recommended the commercial release of Bt Brinjal, the initiative was blocked in 2010.

PRACTICE QUESTION:

With reference to ‘GM mustard’, consider the following statements

1. Genetically-modified (GM) mustard became the first transgenic crop in India, to be approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for the environmental release.

2. It has been developed using the genetic male sterility (GMS) technique

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer