Supreme Court to decide fate of commercial cultivation of GM mustard

By Times Of India on 01 Aug 2017 | read
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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court told the Centre on Monday that even if it cleared GM mustard for commercial cultivation, the crop would be sowed only after the court scrutinised the legality of the decision and its impact on the environment and indigenous mustard varieties.

Additional solicitor general P S Narasimha told a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud that the Centre could take a final decision on the apex regulatory body's go-ahead for commercial cultivation of GM mustard by September-end and assured that till then, GM mustard would not be allowed to be sowed, even though the sowing season for mustard would start in October.

The bench agreed to postpone the next hearing on the issue to the second week of September and directed the Centre to place the decision taken on the apex regulatory body's go-ahead for GM mustard before it. "So, no cultivation of GM mustard will take place as the sowing season for mustard is in October," it said.

Narasimha said the government was ready for judicial scrutiny of its decision on GM mustard, which was subjected to rigorous regulatory mechanism and closed field testing. "I am ready to argue the case even before the Centre takes the final decision," he said.

Petitioner NGO, Gene Campaign, through advocate Prashant Bhushan, had red-flagged the proposal to allow commercial cultivation of GM mustard.

Bhushan had recounted the perilous experience of GM rice in Texas, US, which contaminated production of long-grained rice, leading to a ban on its import by EU countries and Russia.

"The stage today is not closed greenhouse experimentation on growing GM mustard. If the government permits greenhouse experimentation, we have no problem.

But the moment it is cultivated in open field, one does not know what effect it would have on nearly 5,000 varieties of indigenous varieties of mustard grown in India.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (of the government) is riddled with conflict of interest and cannot be trusted for an independent evaluation of the grave risk posed by GM mustard," he had said.