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Experts, farmers hail SC refusal on banning field trials of GM crops

The anti-GM activists, however, pleaded with the apex court to ban field trials as per the TEC's recommendation as it can cause irreversible damage to the environment

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

A section of the scientists and farmer organisations today hailed the Supreme Court’s move to refuse an interim ban on field trial of Genetic Modified (GM) crops.

A PTI report said that the Supreme Court today refused to impose an interim ban on GM field trials despite the court-appointed expert committee recommending the ban. The Court also modified the composition of the committee by including one more member.

There was long discussion on naming a new member, and ultimately the choice fell on RS Paroda, an agricultural expert. The final report will be submitted after six weeks.

Sudhir Panwar, chairman of the Kisan Jagrit Manch, said that this (the order) would not only provide thorough probe on the issues involved in the safety concerns of GM crops through trials but usefulness of this technology in the augmentation of agriculture production without the use of deadly insecticides and pesticides.

I S Dua, Professor Emeritus & Former Chairman, Department of Botany, Punjab University welcomed the inclusion of an agriculture science expert in the newly constituted technical committee.

He also expressed the hope that the new committee will deliver its recommendations by keeping in mind the needs of the country and countrymen. This way, benefits of science and technology will be made available to the Indian farmer.

Karnail Singh, President of Naujawan Kisan Club, Punjab said farmers in India must have access to latest farm technologies in these times of climate change and erratic weather. Everything should be done to provide that.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati, US corporation Monsanto and certain associations opposed the interim finding of the present committee which had recommended a ban on field trials of GM crops until a credible regulatory system was put in place. It also called for a 10-year moratorium on field trials of Bt food crops.

The government submitted before a bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar that suspending trials on GM food will have serious consequences. India will not be able to meet the millennium development goals. A ten-year moratorium will have a cascading effect in all aspects of food security and other aspects of human life in the country.  India will be set back by decades, the Attorney General said.

On the other hand, Aruna Rodrigues and Gene Campaign, who have filed public interest litigations ( PILs) and represented by counsel Prashant Bhushan, reiterated their fear that the open field trials will have irreversible impact on the environment and people’s health.

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First Published: Fri, November 09 2012. 20:58 IST