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Final decision on GM mustard likely in September: Centre tells Supreme Court

LiveMint logoLiveMint 31-07-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it was likely to take a final decision on the commercial rollout of genetically modified (GM) mustard by September.

Taking into consideration that the sowing season will commence in October, a bench headed by chief justice J.S. Khehar said that the challenge would be heard in court before the rollout was allowed, in case the Centre decided to go ahead with it.

On 17 July, additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, had informed the court that the government was considering various aspects of the issue and was still to take a final decision.

The Centre has been asked by the court repeatedly to take a well-informed and well-intentioned decision on the commercial rollout.

The court was hearing a batch of pleas led by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues, challenging the commercial rollout of GM mustard and open field trials citing health risks. 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 or GEAC, 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 in September.

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