No commercial release of GM mustard till 17 October: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court asks Centre to take public opinion on GM Mustard crop before releasing it for cultivation purpose


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

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Centre to hold the release of genetically modified (GM) mustard for the next 10 days on an application seeking prohibition of open field trials and commercial release of GM mustard.

The application was filed in an ongoing case by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues.

Chief justice of India T.S Thakur passed the direction after being informed by the Centre that the consultation process regarding the commercial release was still on.

Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Rodrigues, 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.

He stressed on the urgent need to stop the commercial release of GM mustard as this would cause irreversible damage to the domestic non-GM variants.

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.

It was 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 gets the green light from the environment ministry’s Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee, it will become the first transgenic food crop to be commercially cultivated in India. Right now, only GM cotton is cultivated in the country.

The matter will be heard next on 17 October.

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