The Supreme Court on Friday stayed the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop for ten days and asked the Centre to take public opinion on such seeds before releasing it for cultivation purpose, even as government approval is awaited.
A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice A M Khanwilkar said the Centre will not commercially release the Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop till October 17 when it will hear the matter in detail.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta agreed that no commercial release of the seeds will be done till October 17 and views and suggestions of the public should be taken and put up before the appraisal committee before releasing them.
Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November.
Mehta said the Centre needs to file reply to the petition and refuted the allegation that sowing of the seeds was being done without relevant tests.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, alleged that Centre is sowing the seeds in various fields and said the bio-safety dossier has to be put on website but this has not been done yet.
He alleged that without doing relevant tests, they were carrying out field trials of the crop and sought a 10-year moratorium on them.
Bhushan said a Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report has said that the entire regulatory system was in shambles and 10-year moratorium should be given.
Rodrigues had filed the plea on Thursday seeking a stay on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop and prohibition of its open field trials.
The plea 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.
“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, as will be amply demonstrated, there is no purpose to this GMO HT mustard for India,” the petition said.
The plea also said that the contamination caused by the 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,” it said.