NEW DELHI, April 26 India could prevent foreign
firms monopolising the market for genetically modified (GM)
seeds by allowing the sale of only locally developed varieties,
a government think-tank has said, in a boost for transgenic
mustard produced by a Delhi group.
The Policy Commision said in recommendations this week to
the government, and seen by Reuters, that adopting new
technology is one of the most important drivers of farm
Cotton is the only GM crop currently allowed to be sold in
the world's second most populous country where arable land is
shrinking. U.S. company Monsanto Co dominates the cotton
seed market in India, and often faces resistance from local
companies over its dominant position.
"There is some concern that GM seeds can be monopolised by
multinationals, which may then exploit farmers," the commission
said in its report to the government. "But this concern is
readily addressed by limiting GM seeds to those varieties
discovered by our own institution and companies."
A panel of government and independent experts gave its
technical clearance in August last year for GM mustard, which is
in the same plant family as rapeseed, and developed by a group
of Delhi scientists following multiple reviews of crop trial
data generated over almost a decade.
The national government has been sitting on the fence since
August largely because of stiff opposition from social and
environmental activists who see GM food as harmful for humans
and animals alike.
India's biggest rapeseed-producing state, Rajasthan, has
decided not to allow the commercial use of GM mustard even if
New Delhi approves the lab-altered variety, its farm minister
Prabhulal Saini told Reuters.
The government has said it will take a call on GM mustard
after taking all views on board, though experts say allowing its
cultivation is critical to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's goal
of attaining self-sufficiency in vegetable oils.
India spends around $10 billion annually on vegetable oil
imports. GM mustard - with yields up to 30 percent higher than
normal varieties - could give Modi a chance to slash this bill.
(Reporting by Nidhi Verma, Krishna N. Das and Rajendra Jadhav,
editing by David Evans)