Commercial cultivation of GM mustard in 3 years: Scientists | The Financial Express

Commercial cultivation of GM mustard in 3 years: Scientists

According to Trilochan Mohapatra, president, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), the agriculture ministry, through Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), will be conducting large-scale demonstration and field trials across key mustard growing region through multiplication of the GM seed DMH 11.

Commercial cultivation of GM mustard in 3 years: Scientists
Since 1994, we have been working on developing new varieties for the mustard crop.

Large-scale commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) mustard, which got regulatory clearance recently for extended field trials, may take nearly three years. According to Trilochan Mohapatra, president, National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS), the agriculture ministry, through Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), will be conducting large-scale demonstration and field trials across key mustard growing region through multiplication of the GM seed DMH 11. These trials are meant to evaluate the efficacy of the seed.

Mohapatra said high-yielding hybrids using GM technology could be developed in the coming years. These could be both disease and pest resistant. Stating that sowing of mustard crop in the current season is largely completed across key producing states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab —, he said that with existing seeds of transgenic hybrid mustard, around 100 demonstrations could easily be conducted this season.

Also read| GM mustard gets approval for field trials

According to NAAS, the trials conducted over three years at eight locations under the supervision of ICAR- Directorate of Rapseed and Mustard Research (DRMR), Bharatpur, Rajasthan showed DMH-11 to have, on average, a yield advantage of 28% over the widely cultivated mustard variety Varuna. The average yield of mustard, which has a share of around 40% in the country’s edible oil production, has been around 1.5 tonne per hectare. Scientists say there are regional variations in yield pattern as mostly mustard is grown in rainfed condition while yield has been largely stagnated in the country.

Also read| Don’t dither on GM mustard

The DMH 11 variety could boost mustard yield to close to 2.5/tonne per hectare from current level of 1.5 tonne/hectare, according to KC Bansal, secretary, NAAS. The GM mustard variety DMH 11 is expected to help fight orobanche weed which hits yield of crop in 2.5 million hectare (mh) out of around 7 mh cultivated area and herbicides tolerant trait of variety could be inserted into existing varieties for increasing their yield. GEAC last week had recommended an ‘environmental’ release of a transgenic mustard hybrid, making it the first GM crop to get such regulatory approval in two decades.

In a communication to Deepak Pental, former professor, Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi, who holds the patent for the DMH 11, GEAC has stated ‘these events can be used for developing new parental lines and hybrids under supervision of ICAR,”.

“The environmental release of mustard hybrid DMH 11 for undertaking its seed production and testing as per existing ICAR guidelines and other extent rules or regulations prior to commercial release,” according to GEAC communication.India started commercial cultivation of BT cotton in 2002, which resulted in an impressive threefold increase in cotton yield within a decade.While the then Genetic Engineering Approval Committee had approved the first transgenic food crop Bt Brinjal in 2009 for wider environmental release, the decision was later stayed by the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh on grounds of ‘insufficient scientific evidence about safety’. The issue has since been hanging fire.

India meets around 56% of its annual edible oil consumption via imports. The country’ edible oil production is in the range of 10-3 mt -11.6 mt during 2017-18 – 2021-22 while demand has been in the range of 24-25 mt resulting in rise in imports. “With the introduction of GM mustard hybrid, the yield could increase by around 25% in the next couple of years and help the country in achieving domestic edible oil production of 17 mt as envisaged by 2025-26,” Bansal of NAAS, said.

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First published on: 01-11-2022 at 07:34 IST