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The case against genetically-modified (GM) mustard seeds came up for hearing on Monday (July 17) before the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice JS Khehar and Justice DY Chandrachud.

The court is deciding on an application filed by activist Aruna Rodrigues seeking an urgent stay on the commercial release of GM mustard. With the decision on commercial approval of GM mustard on the anvil, anti-GMO campaigner Rodrigues had filed the petition seeking a moratorium on the release of any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into the environment pending a rigorous bio-safety protocol conducted by independent expert bodies.

The Government of India had submitted before the court that no release of GMO shall take place till October 17, 2016, because the government sought views from the public. Upon receipt of such views and objections, the matter will be considered by a committee of experts. That process could not be completed by October 17, 2016.

At the last hearing, senior advocate Prashant Bhushan argued that the genetically modified seeds will impact the natural seed crop and there is no mechanism in place to check the genetically modified mustard seeds.

The CJI had asked: “Why have you not claimed relief against imported mustard oil derived from genetically modified seeds?”

Attorney General KK Venugopal had stated that the value of import of mustard oil is Rs 65,000 crore.

On Monday (July 17), Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that the government is yet to take a policy decision on this.

The bench stated: “We are of the view that keeping in mind the importance of the matter, as and when any policy decision is taken, the same has to be put on record and after that within four weeks all objections are invited.”

The matter will come up again once the ASG returns with instructions.

India Legal Bureau

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