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GM Mustard

Context:

  • Recently, the Supreme Court questioned the government on whether the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) had considered the reports of the court­appointed Technical Experts Committee (TEC) on the biosafety of transgenic mustard hybrid DMH­11 before approving it for environmental release.

About DMH-11:

  • Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 also known as DMH – 11, is a genetically modified hybrid variety of the mustard species.
  • It was developed with the aim of reducing India’s demand for edible oil imports.
  • DMH – 11 was created through transgenic technology and primarily involving the Bar, Barnaseand Barstar gene system.
  • The Barnase gene confers male sterility, while the Barstar gene is responsible for DMH – 11’s ability to produce fertile seeds.

About Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC):

  • It is India’s apex biotechnology regulatory body.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the statutory committee and functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • It is constituted under the “Rules for the Manufacture, Use/Import/Export and Storage of Hazardous Micro Organisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells (Rules, 1989)” framed under Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • As per Rules, 1989, the body is responsible for appraisal of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
  • The GEAC is also responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the enviornment including experimental field trials.
  • The committee is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • It is important to note that clearance of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is mandatory for the environmental release of Genetically Modified (GM) crops.

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