The SC on Monday asked the government to stop itself from embarking on any project on, or commercial release of, genetically modified (GM) mustard.
A Bench of CJI J.S. Khehar and Justice D.Y.Chandrachud said an injunction order would be passed if it was found that GM mustard affected health and life for generations. An injunction is an order issued by a court that forces the defendant––a person, corporation or government entity––to do something or stop doing something, depending on what the plaintiff is requesting.
The court agreed with Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s suggestion to get more information on GM mustard by July 28 to address the apprehensions raised by the court and petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, on the after-effects of GM mustard.
The court scheduled the case for hearing on July 31.
About GM-mustard and related apprehensions:
Last year, a team of scientists at Delhi University led by former vice-chancellor Deepak Pental bred DMH-11, a genetically modified (GM) mustard hybrid. This GM mustard is expected to give 25-30% more yield than the best varieties such as “Varuna” currently grown in the country.
This development is crucial from India’s point of view as the country, in 2014-15, imported 14.5 million tonnes of edible oil valued at $ 10.5 billion; the import included 0.4 million tonnes of rapeseed oil, which many traders and processors are blending with indigenous mustard oil. The use of this genetically modified mustard crop is expected to boost indigenous production and hence cut down India’s reliance on imports.
The apprehensions against GM-mustard are:
· There are no comprehensive scientific records of its safety and hazards on humans and environment and hence in the long run, the after-effects of GM mustard crops can be detrimental to human beings, environment and soil.
· Many argue that GM in itself is a failed technology. Recently, Bihar CM told PM Narendra Modi that Bt-cotton which had been cultivated in the country for 15 years now demonstrated amply that GM was a failed technology. “Bollworm, a cotton pest for which GM technology was brought in for pest control has developed resistance against the Bt-cotton and is able to survive and has wreaked havoc on Bt-cotton crop. Thousands of farmers have incurred losses in the country due to this.
· Regulatory framework for GM crops in India has various shortcomings. Due tests and regulations are not being properly followed while examining the reliability of any GM crops. GM mustard, allegedly, was given approval by the regulatory authority with proper field trials and other tests.
The Hindu Newspaper (You can download the newspaper for free from a link given on this fb page – UPSC Aspirants Forum)