Wednesday, October 26, 2016

No commercial release of GM Mustard crop sans nod, Centre to SC

The apex court had on October 7 restrained the commercial release of the crop for ten days

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi  | October 25, 2016 Last Updated at 00:36 IST

The Centre, on Monday, told the Supreme Court that it would not commercially release Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop seeds without its permission.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi appearing before a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said if there would be any decision to go ahead with the field trials of the GM crop and for its commercial release, then it would first seek the apex court's permission.
"If we are to proceed with field trials of the GM crops or have to release it commercially, we will like to come back to the court for the permission," Rohatgi told the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao.

The apex court has now posted the matter for further hearing after four weeks.

It had earlier extended the stay on the commercial release of GM Mustard crop till further orders.

The apex court had on October 7 restrained the commercial release of the crop for ten days, saying the stay would continue till the matter is heard next.

The court, at the last hearing, had asked the Centre to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing it for cultivation purpose, even as government approval is awaited.

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

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

Alleging that field trials were being carried out without doing the relevant tests, he sought had a 10-year moratorium on them. Bhushan said a Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report has also said that the entire regulatory system was in shambles and 10-year moratorium should be given.

Rodrigues had filed the plea seeking a stay on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop and prohibition of its open field trials.

He 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.

It said the contamination caused by mustard HT DMH 11 and its HT parents would be "irremediable and irreversible". "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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