Apex court asks government to seek public opinion before releasing it for cultivation purpose

The Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that so far it has not taken any policy decision on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop.

A bench consisting of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud considered the statement of Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, that the government is considering various aspects of the matter and has invited suggestions and objections on the commercial roll out of GM crops. The bench has granted the government one week’s time to apprise it as to by when it will take a “well-informed and well-intentioned” policy decision on the roll out. The court asked the Centre to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing them for cultivation purpose, even as the government’s approval is awaited.

The apex court had extended the stay on the commercial release of GM mustard crop until further orders on October 17, 2016.

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

Appearing for the petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, Advocate Prashant Bhushan alleged that the government was sowing the seeds in various fields and the biosafety dossier should be put on a website which has not been done yet. He also alleged that field trials were being carried out without doing relevant tests, which is why he sought a 10-year moratorium on them. Bhushan said a Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report has mentioned that the entire regulatory system was in shambles and a 10-year moratorium should be given.

Rodrigues had filed the plea seeking a stay on the commercial release of GM Mustard crop and prohibition of its open field trials. She had also urged the court to prohibit open field trials and commercial release of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crops including HT Mustard DMH 11 and parent lines/variants as recommended by the TEC report.

GM Mustard Government Policy Decision Supreme Court