According to the Centre, India is already “importing and consuming oil derived from genetically modified (GM) crops”, and that opposition to such technology is a cause of harm to farmers, consumers, and industry.
It was stated in an affidavit filed by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change that mustard is one of India’s most important oil and seed meal crops, grown on approximately 8-9 million hectares of land.
Even though the rate of seed replacement (farmers buying fresh seed) has increased to 63%, and the area under irrigation has increased to 83% of the total mustard area, yields remain stagnant despite all these investments.
According to the report, the current rate of edible oil consumption in India exceeds the domestic production rate. According to the government, India imports approximately 55% to 60% of its edible oil demand.
According to the report, the country has already imported and consumed large quantities of edible GM oil seeds. “Cotton grown in India is a GM crop, and we produce approximately 9.5 million tons of cotton seed and 1.2 million tons of cotton oil for human consumption, and approximately 6.5 million tons for animal consumption,” it stated.
The ministry pointed out that India imports about 55,000 metric tonnes of canola oil, primarily from GM canola seeds, and approximately 2.8 lakh tonnes of soybean oil, mostly made from GM soybean seeds. As India imports and consumes oil derived from GM crops, opposition to such technology ‘based on unfounded fears of adverse effects’ only harms farmers, consumers, and industry, the affidavit stated.
According to the government, the average price of refined palm oil, soy oil, and mustard oil is increasing continuously, indicating that India must become independent in its oil production to meet its domestic consumption needs. Increasing the price of edible oil will also cause inflation … the government suggested that agricultural reforms such as planting GM oilseed crops such as mustard would be beneficial.
According to the report, the DMJ 11 hybrid GM mustard variety has shown an increase in yield per hectare of 25% to 30% over the traditional type, thus reducing India’s dependence on other countries and achieving its goal of self-reliance. As a result of the government’s submission, it is imperative to strengthen plant breeding programs, including genetic technology, to meet emerging challenges in Indian agriculture and ensure food safety.
According to the ministry, “the conditional approval for the environmental release of transgenic mustard hybrid DMH 11 and parental lines…containing Bar, Barnase, and Barstar genes has been granted after following the detailed procedure stipulated in law… as well as considering the biosafety data accumulated over several years”.
It stated that these genes have been safely present in the food chain for more than 20 years.
It was explained by the government that, before granting permission, all the stipulated biosafety tests had been conducted on the GM mustard hybrid DMH-11 and its two parental lines and that it had been cleared subject to strict terms and conditions to ensure environmental safety.
According to the affidavit, this will also enable researchers to gather data about the impact of GM mustard on honey bees and other pollinators. According to the affidavit, commercial cultivation of genetically modified rapseeds and canola hybrids is permitted in Canada, where the number of honey bee colonies increased from 473 thousand in 1974 to 773 thousand in 2018, and the cultivation area of GE canola increased from 3.16 million acres in 1974 to 21.49 million acres in 2018.
According to the article, these “statistics indicate that GE Canola may not negatively affect the population of bees”.