New Delhi, February 5

(PTI) : The production of cotton in the country has nearly doubled since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002, the government told the Rajya Sabha today. In a written reply to a question, Union Minister Mahesh Sharma said the hybrids have helped to minimise the damages caused by pests like Bollworm. His remarks assume significance as they come amid a controversy over the country’s GM crop regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), recommending the commercial use of GM mustard in a submission to the environment ministry.

Several groups, including RSS-affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), have criticised the GEAC move, saying commercial use of GM mustard would impact allied agri-activities. The minister, however, said evaluation of each application for environmental release of GM crops is done on a “case-to-case” basis after a thorough examination of health, environment and food and feed safety assessment.

“Since the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002 there has been a near doubling of cotton production in the country from 158 lakh bales in 2001-02 to 351 lakh bales in 2016-17, and increase in productivity from 308 kg/ha in 2001-02 to 568 kg/ha in 2016 17,” Sharma said. After receiving representations from various stakeholders post the GEAC recommendation, the government referred the issue of GM mustard back to the GEAC. —PTI (Source: