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Rajasthan won’t permit GM mustard even if Centre approves

Rajasthan is the largest mustard growing state in India with 46 percent share in national mustard production

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Rajasthan Agriculture Minister, Prabhulal Saini said reporters on the sidelines of a FICCI event in New Delhi on Friday said, tThe Rajasthan government will never allow commercial cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard even if the Centre approves it, maintaining that its traditional varieties are giving much better yields than the GM crop.

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), India’s Biotech regulator has already approved a proposal on GM mustard variety, DMH - 11, developed by the Delhi University's Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants.

The final nod from the Ministry of Environment is awaited amid strong opposition from green activists, including RSS affiliate, Bhartiya Kisan Sangh.

"Firstly, we do not need GM mustard because our state has enough traditional varieties with better yields. Secondly, I disagree with gene modification, which is nothing but meddling with nature," Rajasthan Agriculture Minister told reporters.

Also, there are apprehensions about its possible impact on environment and human beings, which is being debated world over. "Unless safety concerns are made clear, it is too early to allow GM mustard," Saini said.

Stating that both field trials and commercial cultivation would not be permitted in the state, the Minister said: "Even if the Centre approves it, we will resist. Agriculture is a state subject, the Centre cannot dictate what crop to grow".

In 2012, the GEAC had allowed field trials of GM mustard in three districts of the state. The crop had to be burnt later due to fear that pollination could be carried through air, water and animals and create imbalance in nature, he said.

The minister said the state government has taken several measures to preserve traditional seeds of maize and bajra, and creating seed banks in five places.

It is noted that the country's 46 per cent of mustard is grown in Rajasthan.

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