The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), India’s Biotech regulator, is set to give its approval for commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard.
GEAC on Monday convened a meeting where it reviewed additional information provided to it by the Delhi University's Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants and also met activists opposing the move. The regulator did not take a final call on commercial cultivation of GM mustard in the country but expressed satisfaction over the evidence of scientific field trials submitted to them.
It asked its risk assessment group to look into the deficiencies pointed out by a sub-committee.
The Delhi University's institute had sought GEAC's permission for environmental release of its transgenic mustard variety. The regulator was to take up the matter in its meeting yesterday, which was second on the issue in this year.
Even as activists upped their ante against commercialisation of GM mustard, the GEAC, functioning under the Environment Ministry, in its meeting chaired by an Additional Secretary, asked the risk assessment group to submit within 60 days its report, which will be put in public domain for further consultation.
The senior ministry official said the objections put forth by the activists would be forwarded to the risk assessment group.
"A sub-committee, formed earlier, has pointed out certain deficiencies. Those recommendations will also be looked into by the (risk assessment) group. Further process as per rule will be undertaken," an Environment Ministry source said.
Officials said that after the deficiencies are looked into, the applicant will be notified to make a fresh dossier and after re-examinations, it will be put up in the public domain.
GEAC had sought suggestions and recommendations from agriculture experts and farmers on the commercial cultivation of GM mustard and its possible impact on bio-diversity.
In its earlier meeting in February, GEAC had asked the institution to submit more details to it about the field trial.