Rajasthan Agriculture Minister Prabhulal Saini on Wednesday said the state was not ready to introduce genetically modified (GM) mustard and was doing well with normal seeds.
“There is a debate going on over this issue at the international level. We will wait for the results,” he said on the sidelines of a three-day Global Rajasthan Agritech Meet here.
Saini said GM mustard research will not be happening anytime soon in Rajasthan.
He said while the productivity of GM mustard is said to be 16 quintals per hectare, Rajasthan is already producing 28-30 quintals with normal seeds.
“So why should we do away with our traditional seeds? The oil content in our mustard is 40-42 per cent, the highest in the country,” he said.
On the central government push for the GM crop, he said agriculture is a state subject under the Indian Constitution.
“It is up to the Rajasthan government to decide which crop should be grown here and which shouldn’t be,” the Minister said.
“Even if the central government takes a call to introduce GM mustard, we will protest and tell them we are not in a hurry to introduce it.”
Saini said many countries had rejected the GM crops.
“Currently, our stand is that we will never have trial runs for GM crops in Rajasthan unless there is a global consensus on its safety,” he said.
“We will wait and see what decision is taken at the national and international levels.”
The Minister said his views were not that of an expert but of a farmer.
“If we play with nature, we won’t benefit from it,” he said.
On May 11, the Union Environment Ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) gave a positive recommendation to GM mustard. However those opposed to it urged the Union Environment Minister against the crop, claiming tests were rigged.
The approval is now with the Environment Minister and if approved, GM Mustard could be the first genetically modified food crop to be cultivated in India.