NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to present its considered view before taking a policy decision on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop. A Bench of Chief Justice of India JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud asked the Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to apprise the court about the policy decision and granted one week’s time.
“It is an extremely important issue. You (Centre) take a well-informed and considered decision, as once it is allowed, the effect will be irreversible,” the Bench remarked. The ASG informed the Bench that government is considering various aspects and had invited suggestions and objections on the commercial roll-out of GM crops.
Last year, the court had extended the stay on the commercial release of GM mustard crop until further orders and had also restrained the commercial release of the crop for 10 days on October 7, 2016, and had asked the Centre to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing it for cultivation purposes, even as government approval is awaited.
Mustard is one of India’s most important winter crops, which is sown between mid-October and late-November. During the previous hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, who was appearing for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, alleged that the government was sowing the seeds in various fields and said the bio-safety dossier had to be put on the website, which has not been done yet. Bhushan alleged that field trials were being carried out without conducting the relevant tests and had sought a 10-year moratorium on them.