SC Stays Commercial Release of GM Mustard (Download PDF)

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Supreme Court has stayed the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) mustard crop till October 17, 2016. It has asked the Central Government to take public opinion on such seeds before releasing the variety for cultivation.

Image of Supreme Court

Image of Supreme Court

Image of Supreme Court

  • Order was issued by Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar.
  • Centre will not commercially release the GM mustard crop till October 17. The court will now hear the case on October 17.
  • Petition by Aruna Rodrigues claimed that sowing of the GM Mustard seeds was undertaken without relevant tests and without following entire bio-safety dossier for commercial launch.
  • It also insisted SC to prohibit open field trials and the commercial release of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crops, including HT Mustard DMH 11 and its parent alternatives.

About GM Mustard DMH-11

  • Mustard is most important winter crop of India, sown between mid-October and late November.
  • Hybridisation has been successfully used to improve many other crops.
  • It is a self-pollinating crop difficult to hybridise naturally.
  • It is India’s largest edible oil yielding crop.
  • DMH (Dhara Mustard Hybrid)-11 is genetically modified variety of mustard. It is Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crop.
  • It was developed through a government program by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University.
  • Delhi University researchers also created hybridised mustard DMH-11 using technology known as “barnase / barstar”.
  • GMEC (Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee) permitted commercial production of Mustard DMH-11 in February 2016.

Arguments in Favour GM Mustard DMH-11

  • 30% more yield than a traditional mustard.
  • Enhances government-led scientific research in Agriculture.
  • Increases production of edible mustard oil reducing huge import bill for edible oil.
  • Herbicide tolerant variety

Arguments against GM Mustard

  • GM mustard approval will pave the path to approval of several heritably modified food crops- we should be careful not to set a bad precedence.
  • Environmentalists are increasingly concerned about biosafety of GM crops.
  • Without proper testing, it may end up adversely affecting environment, human and animal health.
  • Supreme Court appointed Technical expert committee in this regard. They found that HT crops are completely unsuitable in the Indian context.
  • DMH-11 has external genetic factor that makes it unaffected by herbicide. Thus, forcing farmers to use only select brands of agro-chemicals.

- Published/Last Modified on: October 10, 2016

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