Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11
#GS-03 Science and Technology, Biodiversity
About Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC):
- Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) is the apex regulator of genetically modified plants and food products in the country.
- It functions under 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).
- Presently, it has 24 members and meets every month to review the applications in the areas indicated above.
The functions of GEAC as prescribed in the Rules 1989 are as follows:
- To appraise activities involving large scale use of hazardous microorganisms and recombinants in research and industrial production from the environmental angle.
- To appraise proposals relating to release of genetically engineered organisms and products into the environment including experimental field trials.
- The committee or any persons authorized by it has powers to take punitive action under the Environment Protection Act.
About Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11:
- Dhara Mustard Hybrid (DMH-11) is an indigenously developed transgenic mustard.
- It is a genetically modified variant of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) mustard.
- It contains two alien genes (‘barnase’ and ‘barstar’) isolated from a soil bacterium called Bacillus amyloliquefaciens that enable breeding of high-yielding commercial mustard hybrids.
- DMH-11 is a result of a cross between two varieties: Varuna and Early Heera-2.
- Barnase in Varuna induces a temporary sterility because of which it can’t naturally self-pollinate.
- Barstar in Heera blocks the effect of barnase allowing seeds to be produced.
- It has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) at Delhi University.
The need of GM Mustard:
- Trials conducted over three years by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) suggest that DMH-11 has 28% higher yields than its parent Varuna.
- In 2020-21, around 13.3 million tonnes of edible oil were imported at a cost of ₹1,17,000 crore according to the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
- This is primarily due to low productivity — of about 1-1.3 tonnes/hectare — that has been stagnant for over two decades.
- GM mustard would make India self-reliant in oil production and help in saving forex.