Supreme Court Seeks Centre's Reply On Field Trials Of GM Mustard Crop

A bench of Justices MB Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta asked the centre to specify its stand on the alleged field trial of GM mustard crop.

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Supreme Court Seeks Centre's Reply On Field Trials Of GM Mustard Crop

Mustard is one of India's most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November

New Delhi: 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to make its stand clear on the field trials of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop in two weeks.

A bench of Justices MB Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta asked the centre to specify its stand on the alleged field trial of GM mustard crop.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for NGO 'Gene Campaign' said that centre has earlier assured the court that no field trials of the GM crop will be held without express permission from the court.

He alleged that the government has allowed field trial of the GM crop, which would lead to contamination of seeds stock and will be "irremediable and irreversible".

The bench then asked the centre to file its response on the fresh interlocutory application filed by the NGO and posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.

The top court was on November 22, 2017, told that Government of India has not yet taken a decision on the field trials of GM mustard crop, and that all the representations of the stakeholders will be considered before taking final decision.

On September 15 last year, the centre had told the top court that it has not granted any approval for commercial cultivation of GM mustard crop in the country and no plantation will take place without its nod.

It had said that the government has not yet accorded approval to the recommendation of a sub-committee of the Rajya Sabha on GM Crop.

The centre's counsel had said that a sub-committee of Rajya Sabha has submitted its report and the government as of now has not taken any decision on the recommendation.

The top court had on July 31 last year made clear that it would hear a plea challenging the commercial cultivation of GM mustard crop in the country if the government takes a decision in favour of the roll out.

The centre had earlier told the court that it would be taking a policy decision on the commercial roll out within a month or a month-and-a-half.

The court had then said if the government approves the roll out, then it will hear the plea against the GM mustard seeds before the sowing season begins.

It had earlier asked the centre to take a "considered" and "well-informed" view before taking a policy decision on the commercial release of GM mustard crop.

The government had said it was yet to take a policy decision on the commercial release of GM mustard crop and has been considering suggestions and objections on the issue.

The top court had on October 17, 2016 extended the stay on the commercial release of GM mustard crop till further orders. It had asked the government to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing it for cultivation purposes.

Mustard is one of India's most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November.

In its plea, the NGO had sought a stay on the commercial release of GM mustard and prohibition of its open field trials.

The court was also urged 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 in its report.

"Since the claimed yield superiority of HT DMH 11 through the B&B system over non-GMO varieties and hybrids is quite simply not true, in fact a hoax, ... there is no purpose to this GMO HT mustard for India," the petition said.

It said the contamination caused by mustard HT DMH 11 and its HT parents would be "irremediable and irreversible".

"The contamination of our seed stock and germ plasm as will happen with mustard HT DMH 11 and its HT parents will be irremediable and irreversible making our food toxic at the molecular level without recourse," the plea had said.

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