GM Mustard

Why in news

GM Mustard DMH-11 was recently tested in the land fields and found more productive and efficient. This new hybrid form is better than the previous ones because it is not impacting the honey bees' natural pollination process. It was grown by the Delhi University Institute. 

General Modified (GM) crops

It is obtained from plants whose genes are artificially modified mainly by inserting genetic material from another organism to find new properties to increase yield.

The traits of this crop are to protect from pests, diseases, and chemical and environmental conditions.

BT cotton was introduced and approved for commercial cultivation, but Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recommended GM Mustard only for commercial cultivation. 

GM Mustard

  • GM DMH-11( Dhara Mustard Hybrid) was developed for transgenic mustard. It is a much more advanced and generalized variant of Herbicide Tolerant (HT).
  • DMH-11 is the result of a crossbreed of the Indian Mustard Variety 'Varuna' and East European' Early Heera-2' mustard.
  • It has two different genes (barnase and barstar) that were isolated from a soil bacterium known as Bacillus amyloliquefaciens which enables the breeding of high-yielding commercial mustard hybrid.
  • Barnase induces temporary sterility because it cannot self-pollinate naturally. In contrast, the other one blocks the barnase effect of allowing seeds to be produced.
  • The yield of DMH-11 was around 28% more than the national check and 37% more than the Zonal check. The GEAC approves it. 
  • Bar genes are the ones that maintain the natural genes of the hybrid seeds.

Requirements of Barnase and BArstar

  • To maintain male sterility and fertility restoration system efficiently.
  • The current cytoplasmic-genetic male sterility system has the problem of sterility breakdown, which happens under certain environmental conditions which will further reduce the seed purity.'
  • The genetically engineered barnase/barstar system provides an efficient and robust method to produce hybrid seeds of mustard.
  •  The Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) has successfully developed the GM Mustard Hybrid MH11, which was undergone in the testing process during 2008-2016.

 The necessity of GM Mustard

  • The domestic demand for edible oils is kept on going, and to keep up with the demand, India is importing the oils, reducing the forex for Agri import. To maintain the forex reserves, the introduction of GM Mustard was needed.
  • The production of edible oils such as soybean, rapeseed, mustard, groundnut, sesame, sunflower, and linseed is low, concerning the productivity of all these crops globally.
  • Crossbreeding results in hybrids which increase the yield and adaptation. 

Safety concerns associated with DMH-11

  • The genes (Barnase, Barsatar, and Bar) used in the process are questioned for their safety perspective. 
  • Two trials (BRL-I for two years and BRL-II for one year) were conducted for three years to assess the impact of DMH-11 on human health and the environment.
  • The research took place from such perspectives as toxicity, compositional analysis, field trials, and environmental safety; it is shown that GM Mustard is safe for food and feeding purposes and production.

Importance of GM crops and technologies

  • Hybrid comes from the cross of genetically diverse plants, which increases yield and adaptation. The Hybrid Vigour Heterosis exploited crops like rice, millet, sunflower, and maze. 
  • Hybrid produces more than 20% of yields, unlike the conventional varieties.
  • Hybrid technology can enhance the productivity of rapeseed mustard in India.
  • Enhancement of the vitamin contents and healthy fatty acids profiles,
  • GM crops can tolerate low and high temperatures, salinity, and drought.
  •  The hybrid crops can remain fresh for a month more than the conventional crops.

India's BT experience and its backstory 

  • The GM trials stopped in 2010, and there was fierce opposition from farmers, activists, and food experts.
  • India has the fifth largest plantation under GM crops. 
  • BT cotton was immune to pests, but in 2015, it was proved wrong in Punjab. 
  • Around 95% of the production was destroyed under BT cotton.
  • Many farmers took their life during that period, which was considered a crisis.
  • The EGEAC approved BT brinjal in 2009; the protest took place then the environment minister banned the cultivation in February 2010. 
  • Brinjal farmers were dependent on the MNC companies for the seeds. 
  • GEAC recommended the introduction of GM mustard as India's first GM crop.
  • Those who were against this technology were because of food safety. Many activists claimed that there is no higher yield and no issues of low productivity with the naturally grown mustard seeds. 
  • GM seeds cannot be replanted and saved for replantation in case of failure.


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