GM Mustard: Govt rejects reports over absence of health expert in GEAC

The union ministry of environment and forests has rejected the reports by a section of media and few non governmental organizations over the lack of health expertise in the assessment committee of genetically modified mustard

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New Delhi: The Environment Ministry has clarified that the Sub-Committee drawn up by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has experts in subjects relevant to safety evaluation of GE crops.

The clarification issued by the Ministry mentioned, “The GEAC in its 126th Meeting held on January 04, 2016, constituted a Sub-Committee with expert scientists in specific subjects relevant to safety evaluation of Genetically Engineered (GE) Crops. The Sub-Committee also consists of a health expert, Dr B Sesikeran, who is an MD in pathology and former Director, National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and is currently serving as chairman, Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM).”

The clarification comes in the backdrop of comments in a section of the media, alleging that the Sub-Committee constituted by GEAC for review of Biosafety Dossier submitted by Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), for the approval of environmental release of Genetically Engineered (GE) Mustard (Brassica juncea) hybrid DMH-11 and use of parental events (Varuna bn 3.6 and EH-2 modbs 2.99) for the development of new generation hybrids, has “ No Health Expert” in the Sub-Committee.

The full biosafety dossier is also available in the GEAC Secretariat. The assessment of food and environmental safety for release of GE Mustard to develop new generation hybrids, has been placed on the website on 5th September for comments by stakeholders and general public for a period of 30 days. All eyes are on the government’s move post 5th October.