GM mustard study to be out soon

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which examines the scientific merits of releasing genetically modified seeds into the environment, will consider making public, immediately, the results of tests and studies so far conducted to test the safety of transgenic (or GM) mustard.

Multiple sources told The Hindu that a decision to commercially release the seed was still some time away. Several members of the GEAC whom The Hindu contacted refused comment saying that they had signed an “oath of confidentiality.”

This comes even as several farmers’ groups and environmental activist organisations have alleged that the GEAC plans to allow GM mustard on farmer fields. “There is a scientific panel of experts that’s considering this … there is a lot of data but there are still some outstanding questions. We will take our time on this,” said a top official in the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change, requesting anonymity citing the sensitivity of the issue. The GEAC is constituted by the Environment Ministry.

Another official, who also didn’t want to be identified, said a risk assessment body — affiliated to the Ministry — had analysed the results of toxicity studies; the odds of gene flow into the environment, and the results of studies on animals.

“The data is voluminous and there have been meetings earlier this month discussing this ,” he added.

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