India's regulator clears use of GM mustard, final approval awaited

NEW DELHI, May 11 (Reuters) - A government panel has formally cleared an application seeking approval for commercial use of what would be India’s first genetically modified (GM) food crop and has now put the ball in politicians’ court to give their final approval.

The environment ministry’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on Thursday recommended the commercial use of indigenously developed GM mustard, loosely called rapeseed, two government sources said.

Now, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave has to make a decision in consultation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Dave could not immediately be reached for comment.

Late last year Reuters reported that the GEAC gave its technical clearance for GM mustard, following multiple reviews of crop trial data generated over almost a decade.

In its recent report, a government think-tank said New Delhi could prevent foreign firms monopolising the market for GM seeds by allowing the sale of only locally developed varieties.

Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed company, is locked in a bitter battle with an Indian firm, drawing in the Indian and U.S. governments. (Reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj; editing by Susan Thomas)