Monsanto’s Indian subsidiary expects to submit final trial results for its genetically modified (GM) corn to lawmakers within a year for the government to then decide on a commercial launch, the company’s country head said on Friday.
India does not currently allow the growing of GM food crops but the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, keen to improve farms’ productivity, has encouraged open field trials after a five-year de facto ban.
“We are close to the final stage in corn,” Shilpa Divekar Nirula, chief executive of Monsanto India, told Reuters.
“We finished the trial in last kharif (June-October) in Maharashtra state; that is harvested and completed.”
Nirula said the company will take up to a year to collate and submit the data after finishing trials that began about six years ago.
The resulting corn will be insect- and herbicide-tolerant, helping raise yields by 15-20 percent, she said. The current average corn yield in India is 2-2.25 tonnes per hectare, compared with 10 tonnes in the top producer United States.
The final-stage corn trials are the closest Monsanto has come to launching GM food in India after popularizing transgenic cotton that now accounts for 95 percent of the fiber’s cultivation in the country.
From being a net importer, India has since the launch of the GM cotton in 2002 become the world’s second-largest producer and exporter of the fiber.
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