Read : New variant of Mustard DMH-11 and its significance

Posted on :- 2022-11-03 22:15:10
Source :- The Hindu


Why in news?

Recently, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has approved the environmental release of Dhara mustard hybrid-11 (DMH-11), a genetically engineered variant of mustard.

  • About DMH-11

DMH-11 is a hybrid variant of mustard developed by researchers at The Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at University of Delhi. 

  • DMH-11 is a result of a cross between two varieties: Varuna and early Heera-2.
  • DMH-11 is a transgenic crop because it uses foreign genes from a different species.

What is Barnase and Barstar system?

  • This system is used to get new variant of mustard i.e DMH-11.
  • DMH-11 is a result of cross between two varieties that is Varuna and early Heera but such a cross would not have happened naturally and was done after introducing genes from two soil bacterium called Barnase and Barstar.
  • Barnase in Varuna induces a temporary sterlity because of which it can't naturally self pollinate.
  • Barstar in Heera blocks the affect of Barnase allowing seeds to be produced.

Significance of DMH-11

  • Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) suggest that DMH-11 has 28% higher yields  than its parent Varuna and was 37% better than zonal checks or local varieties that are considered the best in different Agro-climatic Zones.
  • Scientists say that having better hybrids is necessary to meet India's rising edible oil import bill.
  • Currently, India imports anywhere from 55–60% of its domestic edible oil requirement. In 2020-21, around 13.3 million tonnes of edible oil were imported at a cost of Rs.1,17,000 crore according to the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences. This is primarily due to low productivity of about 1-1.3 tonnes per hectare that has been stagnant for over two decades.

What is controversy around DMH-11?

There are two main reasons why transgenic mustard is a topic of debate-

  1. The use of genes that are foreign to the species is one main reason as it may dissuade bees from pollinating the plant which could have knock off environmental catastrophes.
  2. The preparation of mustard hybrids require the use of another gene, called the bar gene, that makes it tolerant to a herbicide called glufosinate ammonium.


The Barnase-barstar system, used in DMH-11 is promising but already outdated given that cutting-edge technology such as CRISPR is in vogue. DMH-11 alone may not be the panacea for India's edible oil crisis and rather represents a platform technology that requires seed companies to invest and develop their own hybrids.India need to develop more varieties to overcome the edible oil crisis.