Activists of the Coalition for a GM-Free India has appealed to the Supreme Court to pass orders facilitating the implementation of the key unanimous recommendations of the SC-appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) which called for a complete ban on herbicide tolerant crops in the country.

The TEC comprised five independent experts, including the two scientists nominated by the Centre.

“The committee also recommended that field trials for commercial release of genetically modified crops for which India is a place of origin should not be allowed,” the activists said in the appeal.

“The government has been arguing in court that the regulatory regime is robust and all laid down rules, regulations and guidelines have been followed in appraising this GM mustard. However, this is simply untrue and the coalition has brought out an elaborate report on the numerous constitutional, legal and other violations that have accompanied the appraisal and approval of GM HT mustard of Delhi University,” the activists said.

Also read: GM mustard: Herbicide use will be limited to seed production only, says govt 

“These violations and scientific compromises were essentially to hide the lack of safety of GM mustard,” it said.

Stating that rapeseed-mustard is grown on about 100 lakh hectares in the country, it said that there is hardly a kitchen in India that does not use mustard.

“The approval of a transgenic herbicide tolerant version of Indian mustard has the potential to jeopardise food safety on a very large scale,” it argued.

Urging the Supreme Court to put a permanent ban on GM HT mustard and its open-air release by any name and protect the country’s rich diversity of mustard varieties, the coalition called for the court’s intervention to ensure all gene-edited organisms and products thereof are strictly regulated and reverse the government’s decision to nearly de-regulate certain kinds of gene editing.

“The State governments should not be bypassed under any circumstance when it comes to open air releases of GMOs, including gene edited organisms,” it said.