Cooking up mustard

mustard, an integral part of Indian cuisine, has now become the subject of a raging controversy in the top echelons of India's scientific establishment.

The debate centres around three transgenic mustard varieties that await clearance from the high-powered Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (geac) to make mustard (Brassica juncea) the first genetically modified (gm) food crop to be commercially cultivated in India. The approval has been sought by Gurgaon-based ProAgro Seed Company Limited.

In the last meeting of geac held in the first week of November 2002, the proposal was not cleared. "A decision was deferred as there were some more dilemmas to be resolved,' says A M Gokhale, chairperson of geac. However, he ruled out the possibility of carrying out further trials citing two reasons