India government panel clears GM mustard but hurdles remain -sources

Thu Aug 25, 2016 5:18am EDT
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* Technical clearance given to GM mustard on Aug. 11

* Final decision needed by govt minister; opposition likely

By Mayank Bhardwaj and Krishna N. Das

NEW DELHI, Aug 25 (Reuters) - A government panel has cleared commercial use of what would be India's first genetically modified (GM) food crop, but the political establishment will still have to give final approvals amid wide-spread public opposition to the technology.

Technical clearance for indigenously developed GM mustard seeds was given on Aug. 11 by the panel of government and independent experts following multiple reviews of crop trial data generated over almost a decade, said two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

The decision to go ahead is likely to be made public soon by the environment ministry's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, and is expected eventually to move to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's desk via Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave.

Dave could not immediately be reached for comment.

News of the approval comes at a time when U.S. seed maker Monsanto - which dominates the GM cotton market in India - is facing heightened government regulation that has forced the company to consider quitting a country it has operated in for decades.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Monsanto had withdrawn an application seeking approval for its next generation GM cotton seeds in India, escalating a long-running dispute between New Delhi and the world's biggest seed maker.   Continued...