Govt tells SC it won’t release GM mustard without court’s nod

Govt, however, opposes the plea filed by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues seeking prohibition of open field trials and commercial release of GM mustard


On 7 October, the court had asked the Centre to hold the release of GM mustard for 10 days. Photo: Mint
On 7 October, the court had asked the Centre to hold the release of GM mustard for 10 days. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: The Centre told the Supreme Court on Monday that it will not release genetically modified (GM) mustard without the court’s nod.

It, however, opposed the plea filed by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues seeking prohibition of open field trials and commercial release of GM mustard.

“GM mustard will significantly reduce the import of Canola oil,” the government’s top law officer Mukul Rohatgi told the court.

The application was filed in an ongoing case by Rodrigues. On 7 October, the court had asked the Centre to hold the release of GM mustard for 10 days.

Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Rodrigues, had earlier told the court that the Centre had failed to make public the bio-safety dossier and only a summary of the same had been submitted till now.

The petitioner also sought the court’s direction to constitute a commission of inquiry to submit a report on the field trials and application process for GM mustard crops.

The petition also alleged that “various counts of fraud and regulatory collusion in field trials” of GM mustard crop conducted over the years in multiple locations have made its commercial release a risky proposition. The fact that the commercial release of Bt brinjal was stopped after protests was cited.

If GM mustard is approved by the environment ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, it will be the first transgenic food crop to be commercially cultivated in India. Right now, only GM cotton is cultivated in the country.

The case will be heard next on 14 November.

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