By: Vishwa Mohan

NEW DELHI: Amid strong opposition by citizens' groups and farmers against a possible move to allow commercial use of genetically modified (GM) mustard, the government on Friday said any decision in this regard would be taken only after "due deliberations" and made it amply clear that the Centre was not against transgenic variety of food crops per se, provided it fulfils all bio-safety guidelines.

Though the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)apex body that clears field trials of transgenic crops met as scheduled and minutely deliberated on safety aspects of GM mustard, it did not take any decision on its commercial release. of the genetically engineered variety of the oilseed. 

After the meeting, environment minister Prakash Javadekar said the government would not rush through the decision on the issue. 

He assured the protesters that a representation from the health ministry would be included in the GEAC as the matter is directly related to the public health. 

He also made it clear that the government would not stop science (research in the field of transgenic crops) nor would it force GM crops on somebody. "We cannot stop science from progressing. We cannot starve our population. We will explore all alternatives. ," he said. 

GM mustard, developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants in Delhi University, is the first transgenic food crop that has come up before the GEAC for its approval for commercial release after the indefinite ban on GM brinjal in 2010.

Originally Published: The Times of India