Supreme Court stays commercial release of GM mustard crop for 10 days

NewDelhi,Oct8:The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop for 10 days and asked the Centre to take public opinion on such seeds before releasing them for cultivation, even as the government approval is awaited.

A Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said the Centre would not commercially release the GM mustard crop till October 17 when it would hear the matter in detail.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta agreed that no commercial release of the seeds would be done till October 17 and views and suggestions of the public should be taken and put up for the perusal of the appraisal committee before releasing them.

Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November.

Denies allegation

Mr. Mehta said the Centre needed to file reply to the petition and refuted the allegation that sowing of the seeds was being done without relevant tests.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, alleged that the Centre was sowing the seeds on various fields and said the bio-safety dossier had to be put on website but this had not been done yet.

He alleged that without doing relevant tests, they were carrying out field trials of the crop and sought a 10-year moratorium on them.

 Panel report

Mr. Bhushan said a Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report had said that the entire regulatory system was in shambles and a 10-year moratorium should be imposed.

Ms. Rodrigues had filed the plea on Thursday seeking a stay on the commercial release of GM mustard crop and prohibition of its open field trials.

The plea had also urged the court to prohibit open field trials and commercial release of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crops including HT Mustard DMH 11 and its parent lines/variants as recommended by the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report.

“Since the claimed yield superiority of HT DMH 11 through the B&B system over Non-GMO varieties and hybrids is simply not true, in fact a hoax, as will be amply demonstrated, there is no purpose to this GMO HT mustard for India,” the petition said.

The plea also said the contamination caused by the mustard HT DMH 11 and its HT parents would be “irremediable and irreversible damage.”

“The contamination of our seed stock and germ plasm as will happen with mustard HT DMH 11 and its HT parents will be irremediable and irreversible making our food toxic at the molecular level without recourse,” it said.

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