NEW DELHI: In what could be a major decision on the fate of genetically modified (GM) food crop in India, the country's central regulator – Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) – may on February 5 take a final call whether to allow genetically engineered mustard for commercial cultivation or not in India.


The GEAC, comprises of government officials from different ministries and experts from outside, is likely to take a final decision on the basis of the results of field trials of GM mustard.


If the decision goes in favour of GM mustard, it will bound to raise objections from anti-GM groups as the central regulator has so far not made public the report of field trials. 


Though the GM mustard has already gone through two levels of safety tests on the basis of its field trials, the results of it are still under wraps.


At present, only GM cotton (Bt Cotton) is allowed for commercial cultivation in India. Though the GEAC had in July, 2014 had given permission to scientific field trials of many transgenic varieties of rice, wheat, mustard, maize and brinjal, it has so far not allowed commercial cultivation of any GM food crop in India.


Amid reports of the GEAC's final call on the issue, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar and a number of environmentalists including anti-GM activists have recently written to the Centre raising their doubts over the safety aspects of genetically engineered crops, including GM mustard, in the country.


Originally Published: The Times of India