'Decision On GM Mustard's Commercial Roll-Out In 45 Days,' Centre Tells Supreme Court

The court said if the government takes a decision in favour of GM mustard crop, then the court would like to hear the petition challenging the commercial release

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'Decision On GM Mustard's Commercial Roll-Out In 45 Days,' Centre Tells Supreme Court

Prashant Bhushan alleged field trials of GM mustard were being carried out without doing relevant tests.

New Delhi:  The Centre today told the Supreme Court that it will take a decision in a month and a half on whether to allow the commercial roll-out of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop in the country.

A bench comprising Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud told Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha that if the government takes a decision in favour of GM mustard crop, then the court would like to hear the petition challenging the commercial release.

The bench also said that as the mustard sowing season begins in October, any decision favouring the roll-out will come into effect after the court examines it and fixed the matter for hearing in the second week of September.

Earlier, the bench had granted time to the Centre to take a "well-informed and well-intentioned" policy decision on the roll-out. The top court had on October 17 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 10 days on October 7, 2016. The court had asked the Centre to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing them for cultivation, even as government approval is awaited.

Mustard is one of India's most important winter crops 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 the 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. Mr 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.

Ms 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.

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