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SC reserves judgement on environmental release of GM mustard

  • Published
    19th Jan, 2024
Context

The apex court stated it will determine what is best for the nation in a “highly technical” and scientific matter.

Background

I.  Background:

  • The Supreme Court concluded proceedings on the environmental release of genetically modified (GM) mustard.
  • The decision was deferred by the newly-formed bench, comprising justices BV Nagarthan and Sanjay Karol.

Issue: The deferral of the decision suggests the complexity and sensitivity of the GM crop issue, requiring a thorough examination of scientific and technical aspects before reaching a conclusion.

II. Court's Inquiry into GEAC and TEC Reports

Data and Facts:

  • The court inquired on why the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) had not referenced the reports of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) on biosafety of GM crops.
  • Court's scrutiny:The court's scrutiny of the reports highlights the importance of scientific assessments in making informed decisions on environmental releases of GM crops.

III. Concerns Raised

Data and Facts:

  • Potential contamination:Concerns were raised about the potential contamination of other mustard varieties if open plantations of GM Mustard are allowed.
  • Food Export Risk:He emphasized the risk to India's potential for exporting organic food.

VI. Arguments on Open-Field Trials and Food Security

  • Open-field trials:Solicitor General argued that open-field trials are essential and scheduled at eight locations under supervision.
  • Indigenous production and Food Security:He highlighted the importance of indigenous production for food security and reduced dependency on foreign market imports.

Way Forward:

The Supreme Court's decision to defer the judgment on the environmental release of GM Mustard reflects the intricacies involved in balancing environmental, scientific, and economic considerations.

The court's thorough review, legal representation, and acknowledgment of the technical nature of the issue underscore the commitment to making an informed decision that aligns with India's broader interests.

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