Updated: September 11, 2021 9:10:12 am
DELHI High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre on a petition challenging the government decision to allow import of 12 lakh MT of genetically modified (GM) de-oiled and crushed soya cake. However, the court declined to stay the August 24 government notification issued in this regard.
The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, while listing the petition filed by Dattaguru Farmer Producer Company Limited for next hearing on October 22, said many people may have already placed orders and that any interim stay would have far-reaching consequences on commercial transactions.
The court also said that the importer has not been joined as a party in the case. “Suppose we are granting the [stay], are you ready to pay the damages to the importer of the goods,” the court told the petitioner.
The company, which said it was an association of 2,000 farmers and sold more than 6,000 tons of soybean, in its petition argued that any activity concerning any commodity containing genetically modified material of any nature mandatorily requires prior approval of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which has not been done in this case. Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora made arguments on behalf of the petitioner.
It was also argued in the petition that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry had no power to permit the import with approval of GEAC and that the stand of Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying that the commodity did not contain any living modified organism was patently arbitrary.
The petition contends that the Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change has taken an “entirely lackadaisical stand” that since the commodity in question does not contain any living modified organism, it has no concerns and no objection for import.
“India does not grow GM crops apart from Bt cotton. Allowing unrestricted imports of GM processed feed, without a stringent and impartial testing regimen in place, essentially means that the Indian government accepts the exporting country’s biosafety regulations, including health safety concerning GM crops (food/feed), per se and in principle,” the petition said.
Seeking a stay on the notification, Arora argued before the court that the soyabean will immediately go into poultry feed and enter the human chain where it will have adverse effect on the health of human beings.
Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma, while opposing the prayer for stay, said the government was acting against hoarding and trying to break the monopoly.
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