Citizens' Issues
GM mustard trial report to be submitted to Centre soon: Pental

Tested in Rajasthan and Punjab and at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Delhi, the GM mustard's yield is 20 to 30 percent more than the best varieties available currently, said Delhi University's Deepak Pental, who heads the research on the transgenic mustard

 

A team of Indian scientists has completed the final field trials of a genetically-modified variety of mustard and will submit a report on its yields and safety to the central government within a month.
 
Tested in Rajasthan and Punjab and at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Delhi, the GM mustard's yield is 20 to 30 percent more than the best varieties available currently, said Delhi University's Deepak Pental, who heads the research on the transgenic mustard.
 
"It was tested in Rajasthan at three places for two years; at two places in Punjab for one year; and in Delhi in IARI. Results reveal that it yields 20 to 30 percent more crop than the best varieties ... no mean achievement by global standards," Pental, a professor at DU's department of genetics, told IANS on Tuesday.
 
This could substantially bring down India's edible oil imports, he observed.
 
The report would be handed over to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), housed in the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
 
Though there is stiff opposition from a section of farmers and other sectors, Pental said, positive results could help these technologies succeed.
 
"The government has to take a call. If it allows one or two transgenics and people see the positive results like Bt Cotton, then only these technologies will succeed," he said.
 
Pental said biosafety studies (most conducted at National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad) did not show any "untoward effects" in terms of allergenic reactions, toxicity and environmental impacts.
 
He said the genes used in the process have been deregulated (allowing GM seeds to be commercially sold) in many countries and the safety of these genes is "beyond doubt".
 
"The three genes we used have been deregulated in rape seed, a sister crop of mustard that is extensively grown in Europe, Canada, the US, China and Australia. These genes have been deregulated in Canada since 1996. Today, 50 percent of their area is under these transgenics containing these three genes that we used," Pental said.
 
"End products which humans consume will not have any proteins - either the plants' own proteins or the transgenic proteins," he added.
 
Currently, Bt cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial production in India.
 

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Cleartrip's domestic online travel to grow 12-14 percent in 2015

The $3 billion online travel agency (OTA) industry accounts for 22 percent of the overall travel industry, according to the company

 

Online travel portal Cleartrip is expecting the domestic online travel agency in the country to grow 12-14 percent this fiscal with the companies in this space focusing on organic growth.
 
The $3 billion online travel agency (OTA) industry accounts for 22 percent of the overall travel industry, according to the company.
 
"I think the various companies now are focusing on growing their business internally and inorganic growth may come afterwards. For the time being, it'll be organic growth," the company's chief revenue officer Amit Taneja told mediapersons here.
 
The company commands the largest market share in terms of mobile transactions and is the second-largest in the OTA segment having 39 percent market share. MakeMyTrip is the market leader in the overall OTA segment.
 
"Our turnover last year was $800 million and we received 54 percent of the enquiries from mobile handsets. This fiscal year, we are projecting a growth rate of 45 percent compared to 39 percent in the previous financial year from 2013 to 2014," he said.
 
He said the OTA industry is increasingly getting queries from the mobile platform.
 
"Forty percent of the transactions with an average size of Rs.8,000 for us was through the mobile platform last year," Taneja said.
 
He, however, said that his company will continue to focus on growing bookings from the computer segment and focus on the mobility segment which is predominantly led by apps.
 
The venture capital-funded travel portal is not seeking any rounds of investment presently.
 
"We are not looking at any funding. We have sufficient funds at this point," the official said.
 
Cleartrip received its last round of funding in 2012.

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