A hybrid crop is produced by the cross-breeding of two genetically different varieties that can be even from the same species. The first-generation (F1) offspring produced with this technique usually have higher yields than existing varieties.
Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11/ DMH – 11, is a genetically modified hybrid variety of the mustard species Brassica Juncea. It was developed by a team at University of Delhi 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.
This hybrid mustard variety has been under intense public scrutiny, mainly due to concerns regarding DMH – 11’s potential to adversely affect the environment as well as consumer health. Conflicting details and results regarding the field trials and safety evaluations conducted on DMH – 11 delayed its approval for commercial cropping. Some experts have also expressed concerns over the DMH-11 mustard variety being herbicide tolerant, which allows the farmers to kill the surrounding weeds without harming the crop. They fear excess use of the herbicide on GM crops would increase toxic chemicals in food and soil. Many people believe that there are other hybrid varieties of mustard which give more yield and are less harmful.
However, according to the research carried out by GEAC, DMH – 11 was found not to pose any food allergy risks, and has demonstrated increased yields over existing mustard varieties.
GM crops have the following benefits:
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GM crops are the way to go for future agriculture given their immense benefits. However, with every GM crop that is introduced we must understand the potential side-effects and deal with all the problems before putting them into commercial use. Field demonstration studies by MoEFCC with respect to its effects on honey bees and other pollinating insects are a positive step before introducing it on large scale.