New Delhi: The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that so far it has not taken any policy decision on the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop.
A bench comprising chief justice J.S. Khehar and justice D.Y. Chandrachud considered the statement of additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that the government is considering various aspects of the matter and has invited suggestions and objections on the commercial roll out of GM crops.
The bench granted the government one week’s time to apprise it as to by when it will take an “well-informed and well-intentioned" policy decision on the roll out. The apex court had on 17 October last year extended the stay on the commercial release of GM mustard crop until further orders.
The court had restrained the commercial release of the crop for ten days on 7 October 2016. The court 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 relevant tests, he had sought a 10-year moratorium on them.
Bhushan said a Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report has pointed out that the entire regulatory system was in shambles and a 10-year moratorium should be given. Rodrigues had filed the plea seeking a stay on the commercial release of 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 TEC report.