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January 20 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm


The Government of India has informed the Supreme Court about the potential benefits of cultivating genetically modified (GM) crops, specifically GM mustard, emphasizing its role in making quality edible oil more affordable and reducing foreign dependency.

The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has given approval for the environmental release of Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11), marking a significant development in India’s agricultural landscape.

This genetically engineered variant could become the first GM food crop available to Indian farmers.

India’s Demand for Edible Oil

Total Demand and Import Dependency:

  • India’s total edible oil demand in 2020-21 was 24.6 million tonnes, with domestic availability at 11.1 million tonnes.
  • Import met 54% of the total demand, costing around ₹1,15,000 crore. Key imports include palm oil (57%), soybean oil (22%), and sunflower oil (15%).
  • In 2022-23, 55.76% of the total demand (155.33 lakh tonnes) was met through imports.

Importance of Palm Oil:

  • India is the largest importer of palm oil, constituting 40% of its vegetable oil consumption.
  • The National Mission on Edible Oil-Oil Palm, launched in 2021, aims to boost domestic palm oil production to reduce dependence on imports.

Genetically Modified (GM) Crops

  • GM crops undergo artificial modification of genes, often involving the insertion of genetic material from another organism.
  • Modifications aim to confer new properties like increased yield, herbicide tolerance, disease or drought resistance, or improved nutritional value.

India’s Previous GM Crop Approval:

Bt cotton was the only GM crop approved for commercial cultivation in India before the recent recommendation of GM Mustard by GEAC.

GM Mustard – Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11)

Development and Composition:

  • DMH-11 is an indigenous transgenic mustard, genetically modified to be herbicide-tolerant (HT).
  • It results from crossing the Indian mustard variety ‘Varuna’ with the East European ‘Early Heera-2.’
  • It carries two alien genes (‘barnase’ and ‘barstar’) from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, facilitating the breeding of high-yielding commercial mustard hybrids.

Performance and Characteristics:

  • DMH-11 exhibits approximately 28% higher yield compared to the national check and 37% more than zonal checks, as per GEAC claims.
  • The ‘Bar gene’ in DMH-11 helps maintain the genetic purity of hybrid seeds.

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

Role and Responsibilities:

  • Functions under the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • Appraises activities involving large-scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants, focusing on environmental impact.
  • Responsible for evaluating proposals related to the release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment, including experimental field trials.

Composition and Meetings:

  • Chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • Comprises 24 members and convenes monthly to review applications in the specified areas.


The approval of GM Mustard by GEAC signifies a potential shift in India’s agriculture. The government contends that embracing GM crops, particularly in edible oil production, could address economic concerns and reduce reliance on imports, emphasizing the importance of sustainable agricultural practices in meeting the country’s growing demand for edible oil.

Mains Question:

  1. Examine the significance of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee’s (GEAC) recent approval for the environmental release of Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 (DMH-11), a genetically modified variant of mustard. Evaluate the potential impact of introducing GM crops, specifically GM mustard, on India’s agricultural landscape. (150 WORDS)


January 20
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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