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Supreme Court Asks Govt to Apprise it About Any Adverse Impact of GM Mustard Crop

Supreme Court said that if the commercial roll out of the GM mustard crop has adverse impact, then the government would have to take a "well-informed" view before coming out with a policy decision on it.

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Updated:July 25, 2017, 2:19 PM IST
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Supreme Court Asks Govt to Apprise it About Any Adverse Impact of GM Mustard Crop
A file image of the Supreme Court of India.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to apprise it by July 28 about any adverse impact, based on research, of the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard crop.

A bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said that if the commercial roll out of the GM mustard crop has adverse impact, then the government would have to take a "well-informed" view before coming out with a policy decision on it.

The bench considered the submission of lawyer Prashant Bhushan that the genetically modified seeds might have adverse effects leading diseases like cancer and said that it that was so, then it might restrain the government.

"You (counsel for the Centre) will have to give an undertaking on the effects of the GM mustard crop. If it is going to have an (adverse) impact, then we will have to take a decision," it said.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said the government has so far not taken any policy decision on the commercial release of the GM mustard crop and was considering various aspects including the data.

The court posted the matter for further hearing to July 31.

The court had on July 17 asked the Centre to take a "considered" view before taking a policy decision on the commercial release of the crop.

"It is an extremely, extremely important issue. You (Centre) take a well-informed and considered decision, as once it is allowed then the effects would be irreversible," it had said.

The apex court had on October 17 last year extended the stay on the commercial release of the crop till further orders.

It had asked the government to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing these for cultivation purposes.

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

Bhushan, who appeared for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, had alleged that the government was sowing the seeds in various fields and that the bio-safety dossier, which has to be made public by putting it on the website, had not been done.

Alleging that field trials were being carried out without the relevant tests, Bhushan had sought a 10-year moratorium on them.

A Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report had also said that the entire regulatory system was in a shambles and a 10- year moratorium should be given, he had said.

Rodrigues had filed the plea seeking a stay on the commercial release of the 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 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 has said.

It has 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 has said.
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