Patna, Jan 19: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today urged the Centre not to go ahead with its “clandestine” attempt to commercially release genetically modified (GM) mustard without the consent of the state government.In a letter to Union Minister of State (Independent charge) of Environment and Forest Prakash Javadekar, Kumar expressed surprise that Delhi University is attempting to commercialise a GM mustard which has so far been pushed by multinational seed companies.

“It is still more surprising to understand that even if a seed variety is developed by the Delhi University, where is the public institution to multiply the seed and make it available to farmers,” he said in the letter sent today.”It appears that when the interested parties have failed to win the confidence of the farmers of the country, they are pushing the technology through public institution,” Kumar, who served as Agriculture minister in A B Vajpayee NDA government, said.(Also Read: Dalit scholar’s suicide: Nitish Kumar calls for fair probe)

The Bihar Chief Minister said there were conflicting claims on the superiority of GM mustard variety over the traditional varieties.
Noting that mustard is a major oilseed crop in Bihar, he said there were unverified claims of increase in productivity and also a claim of herbicide tolerance.Kumar said, “Environment issues of erosion of biodiversity, adverse effect on ecology and human health are not fully established for GM crop. There is also an issue of social acceptability of the technology.”

He highlighted that Bihar has consistently made its position clear on Bt technology. In 2009, the field trial of Bt-brinjal was rejected on the advice of scientists and the state farmers commission. Trial on Bt maize was also cancelled in Bihar in 2011.The Bihar CM asked Javadekar to make consultation and consent of the state mandatory for any trial of GM crop.