That GM Bogey – Casting away the doubts regarding the GM Mustard DMH-11 | 7th December 2022 | UPSC Daily Editorial Analysis

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What's the article about?

  • It analyses the ongoing debate over allowing GM mustard (DMH-11).


  • GS3: Awareness in the fields of Biotechnology;
  • GS3: Environment;
  • Prelims

What is DMH-11?

  • Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11 is a genetically modified hybrid variety of the mustard species Brassica juncea.
  • It was developed by Scientists at Delhi University’s Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP), with the aim of reducing India's demand for edible oil imports.
  • DMH – 11 was created through transgenic technology, primarily involving the Bar, Barnase and Barstar gene system.
  • It contains two alien genes isolated from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens.
  • The Barnase gene confers male sterility, while the Barstar gene restores DMH – 11's ability to produce fertile seeds.
  • The insertion of the third gene Bar, enables DMH – 11 to produce phosphinothricin-N- acetyl-transferase, the enzyme responsible for Glufosinate resistance.


  • Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav has defended his government’s decision to allow commercial cultivation of the genetically modified (GM) hybrid mustard DMH-11.
  • He has cited three main grounds.
  • The first is that India is already consuming edible oil imported from countries growing GM oilseeds. The fact is that India imported 14.03 million tonnes (mt) of edible oil worth $19.6 billion during the year ended October 2022. That included 4.17mt of soyabean oil, which is entirely GM. To this, if another 1.3 mt from domestically-cultivated Bt cotton is added, nearly a quarter of the 22.5-23.5 mt edible oil that Indians are now consuming comprises GM.
  • Secondly, the approval for GM mustard followed the prescribed regulatory process.
  • The third point made by him concerns the need for promoting scientific research. DMH-11 is a product of indigenous technological innovation even if the original barnase, barstar and bar genes were sourced from a multinational. Moreover, the hybridisation platform on which it is based can be used for breeding mustard hybrids giving higher yields than DMH-11 or possessing other traits such as improved oil quality and disease resistance.

What is the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)?

  • It functions in the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).
  • GEAC is chaired by the Special Secretary/Additional Secretary of MoEF&CC and co-chaired by a representative from the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
  • As per Rules, 1989, it is responsible for appraisal of activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
  • The committee is also responsible for appraisal of proposals relating to release of genetically engineered (GE) organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.

Way Forward:

  • GM crops have the potential to solve a slew of problems in Indian agriculture. They can also contribute to food security. As a result, we must allow GM crops sooner or later.

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