Mustard oil extracted from the seeds of the genetically modified mustard plant is safe to consume, says Prof M Sivanandham, an expert biotechnologist.

“The oil we get out of mustard has no connection to the gene,” said Sivanandham, a former researcher at the New York Medical College, who has taught biotechnology at the Sri Venkateswara College of Engineering, near Chennai.

Recently, India’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recommended (to the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change) commercialisation of GM mustard—the first genetically modified food crop to be approved in India. The recommendation made the crop just one more approval away from commercialisation.

Called ‘Dhara Mustard Hybrid 11’, the GM oilseed is expected to boost yield and help reduce India’s dependence on imports of edible oils. The import bill for 2016-17 worked out to $ 11 billion.

Prof Sivanandham made the comment while talking in an interview to Business Line about motivating students to apply principles of biotechnology in various industries. He said that among the research projects going on in the college was one about making glycerol, a by-product of biodiesel production, into cattle-feed.

Recently, the students of the college discovered a genetic way of preserving milk for long hours, which if successfully commercialized would obviate the need for refrigeration. Sivanandham, who said that the idea had still some way to go before it is ready for commercialisation, noted that the aim was to reach it to rural areas where people cannot afford refrigeration to preserve milk.



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