Sharad Pawar, a retired scientist who has been involved in mustard research for the past 17 years, has came down heavily on the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for having given a wrong and biased decision on GM mustard
EXCERPT: "The GEAC was not at all suited to give such a clearance as most of its members have conflict of interests and were not suitable to give their opinion as expert committee members. How can GEAC clear trials in which the recommendation of the GEAC itself were not followed on using the checks to compare the productivity of existing hybrids with the new GM hybrid," asked [Sharad] Pawar.
Scientist, GEAC have misled country: Mustard expert
The Times of India, Jun 17, 2017
Sharad Pawar, a retired scientist from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre who is involved in mustard research for past 17 years in the Nagpur University, on Friday came down heavily on the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for having given a completely wrong and biased decision on genetically modified (GM) mustard.
He alleged that the scientist leading the project, Deepak Pental had manipulated and fudged the data in the research and also misled the country by making false claims of an increase in the productivity of DMH-11 over the existing hybrids.
Though the ministry of environment, forest and climate change is yet to give the final clearance, the nod for commercial cultivation of the GM and herbicide tolerant (HT) mustard — the Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11) variety — by the GEAC on May 11 this year has been drawing a lot of criticism from the scientific community as well as activists.
Pawar charged that even the results of the bio-safety data (which is one of the biggest indicators of the qualities of the new hybrid and is mandatory to be put in public domain) in the experiment have been concealed from the public and scientists.
"The GEAC was not at all suited to give such a clearance as most of its members have conflict of interests and were not suitable to give their opinion as expert committee members. How can GEAC clear trials in which the recommendation of the GEAC itself were not followed on using the checks to compare the productivity of existing hybrids with the new GM hybrid," asked Pawar.
According to him, the claim of 28% higher yield over 'Varuna' (not a national check now) is absurd. "The seed size of the mustard is also very small. And, surprisingly, the new GM is being cleared when the country has excess production of mustard in states like Rajasthan where last year 25 lakh ton of seed from last year is till lying," said Pawar.
The scientist strongly repeated the claim of the Nagpur University (NU) on one of the parents of the DMH-11, EH-2 (Early Heera) which was used in developing the hybrid. "Pental has not given any credit to NU," said Pawar.
Another big fault with the DMH-11 hybrid, according to Pawar, is that the Barnase-Barstar system in seed production programme in the research needs herbicide "glufosinate ammonium' or Basta which is under the patent regime by Bayer, the German multinational.
The use of this herbicide tolerant technology in crops will lead to development of super weeds which will be difficult to control. "This herbicide is only allowed in tea gardens and not for commercial crops due to its bad effects," he said.
The other scientists who were present with Pawar at the conference were former PDKV vice chancellor Sharad Nimbalkar, retired scientists Ramesh Thakre and M S Kairon, former director of Central Institute for Cotton Research Dilip Mohitkar, president Agrovet-Agro-engineering Mitra Pariwar which hosted the press conference, Milind Raut and Pranay Parate also from the Pariwar, K B Wanjari, associate dean at PDKV, N D Raut, former professor at JNKVV at Jabalpur.