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GM mustard: Centre tells Supreme Court it is still to take a final decision on rollout

LiveMint logoLiveMint 15-09-2017 Priyanka Mittal

New Delhi: The Centre told the Supreme Court on Friday that it was considering various aspects and was still to take a final call on the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard.

“We are looking into all reports by experts including that of the Rajya Sabha sub committee, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) before a final decision is taken,” said additional solicitor general P.S. Narasimha, representing the Centre.

In July, the Centre had told the court that it was likely to take a decision on the issue by September.

Prashant Bhushan, the counsel appearing for the petitioners, expressed doubt at the commercial rollout and said, “The entire system of regulating GM crops in India is in shambles. There is no transparency and it is riddled with conflict of interest. I am looking for an interim order from the court today.”

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

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

Rodrigues 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.

She 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. She also cited the fact that the commercial release of Bt Brinjal was stopped after protests.

In a watershed moment, the environment ministry’s GEAC has approved commercial production of GM mustard, which brings India a step closer to allowing GM food crops. With this 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 case will be heard next on 22 November.

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