The Centre on Monday told the Supreme Court that it will decide on launching genetically modified mustard seeds for commercial use within a month. The bench headed by Chief Justice JS Khehar observed that if the government did decide to go ahead with the rollout, it would hear the case again in the second week of September as the sowing season begins in October, PTI reported.
The top court heard a batch of petitions filed by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues against the commercial use of GM mustard. In its affidavit filed at the Supreme Court on Friday, the Environment Ministry said that GM mustard had been proved safe for more than two decades, Mint reported. “There is no report of any proven ill-effects whatsoever in the use of this technology,” the ministry said.
The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee – India’s regulator for GM products – had recommended launching GM mustard commercially. In September 2016, the ministry had declared the GM mustard variety safe for human and animal health and invited public comments on its biosafety report.
Farmers across the country had launched protests against this conditional approval, saying they had concerns that single companies would take over seed production.
Before GM mustard, Bt brinjal was the only other genetically modified crop developed in India that had reached this stage in regulatory requirements. Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had refused to approve its commercial cultivation and imposed an indefinite moratorium on it, which continues to this day.
Currently, the only GM crop cultivated in the country is cotton.