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Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav addressed concerns regarding the approval of genetically modified mustard on Monday. He pointed out that “about 55-60 per cent of the cooking oil” consumed in India “is imported from countries where genetically modified crops are permitted.”

Yadav, speaking publicly for the first time about the Government’s decision to allow the “environmental release” of GM mustard in October, emphasized that the move was based on sound scientific research and followed the prescribed regulatory process.

He stated that any further concerns could only be addressed through the continued use of the crop under regulatory supervision, which is the purpose of the clearance.

Regarding the anxiety surrounding GM crops and foods, Yadav acknowledged the need for scientific research on their impact, particularly on pollinators and bees. He emphasized the importance of proven safety before commercial production, while also highlighting the potential benefits of GM crops for food security.

Regarding environmental clearances given to various projects, Yadav explained the Ministry’s due diligence in assessing the essential need, feasibility, mitigation measures, and impact on biodiversity before arriving at decisions.

He emphasized the need for a balanced approach to development and conservation, as well as sustainable and balanced development that ensures everyone’s access to electricity and a life with dignity.

In response to a question about the Government’s stand on NGOs, Yadav emphasized the importance of intentions behind their actions, stating that while many NGOs do good work, those operating with ill intentions due to foreign funding are a problem.

Yadav participated in the Express Adda, an informal interaction organized by The Indian Express Group, where he discussed these issues with Anant Goenka, Executive Director of The Indian Express Group, and Amitabh Sinha, Resident Editor of The Indian Express in Pune.

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