Tuesday, July 16, 2024

SC adjourns till Jan hearing on pleas challenging release of GM mustard

The Supreme Court on Tuesday deferred hearing till January next year on the issue of release of genetically modified (GM) mustard.

A bench comprising Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Ujjal Bhuyan could not take up the batch of pleas for hearing due to paucity of time and fixed the matter for hearing on January 9, 2024. It asked parties to remain “crisp” in their arguments.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, the law officer appearing on behalf of the Centre, requested the top court to post the matter on any convenient date for further hearing.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing on petitioner’s behalf, said that a 10-year moratorium has already been recommended by the apex court’s technical expert committee and the decision given by the Supreme Court will be the “first judgment” on the issue.

In August this year, the Supreme Court had refused to pass any urgent directions on the Centre’s application seeking release of genetically modified (GM) mustard for seed production and testing.

“The environment and ecology has to be maintained… One year, here or there, does not matter. The environment harm cannot be reversed,” it had told the law officer of the Centre, stressing that ‘environment and ecology’ have to be maintained.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan had opposed the Centre’s application and said that though it is not a commercial release, no environmental trial should be allowed until the whole regulatory system is in place. He had apprehended that environmental release could contaminate non-GM crops.

Notably, the Centre had submitted an oral undertaking before the apex court, though not formally recorded in court’s order, saying that it would not take any precipitative steps on the decision made by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) allowing the environmental release of the GM mustard.

The GEAC had allowed the environmental release of GM mustard for seed production and testing.



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