The Supreme Court today extended the stay on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop till further orders as the matter did not reach the board for hearing. The apex court, which on October 7 had restrained the commercial release of the crop for ten days, said the stay would continue and the matter will be heard on October 24. The court, at the last hearing, had asked the Centre to seek public opinion on such seeds before releasing it for cultivation purpose, even as government approval is awaited. A bench of Chief Justice T S Thakur, Justice A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud accepted the request of the counsel appearing for the petitioner. During the last hearing, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta agreed that no commercial release of the seeds will be done till October 17 and views and suggestions of the public should be taken and put up before the appraisal committee before releasing them. Mustard is one of India's most important winter crops which is sown between mid-October and late November. Mehta said the Centre needed to reply to the petition and refuted the allegation that sowing of the seeds was being done without relevant tests. Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, alleged that the government was sowing the seeds in various fields and said the bio-safety dossier has to be put on website, which has not been done yet. Alleging that field trials were being carried out without doing the relevant tests, he sought a 10-year moratorium on them.
Bhushan said a Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report has also said that the entire regulatory system was in shambles and 10-year moratorium should be given. Rodrigues had filed the plea yesterday seeking a stay on the commercial release of Genetically Modified (GM) Mustard crop and prohibition of its open field trials. He had also urged the court to prohibit open field trials and commercial release of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) crops including HT Mustard DMH 11 and its parent lines/variants as recommended by the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) report. "Since the claimed yield superiority of HT DMH 11 through the B&B system over Non-GMO varieties and hybrids is quite simply not true, in fact a hoax, ... There is no purpose to this GMO HT mustard for India," the petition said. It said the contamination caused by mustard HT DMH 11 and its HT parents would be "irremediable and irreversible". "The contamination of our seed stock and germ plasm as will happen with mustard HT DMH 11 and its HT parents will be irremediable and irreversible making our food toxic at the molecular level without recourse," it said.