What’s the compelling need to permit GM mustard now: SC | India News

NEW DELHI: Observing that literacy and awareness level among Indian farmers are not at the level of their counterparts in western countries, the Supreme Court on Thursday said all precautionary measures must be taken before allowing cultivation of genetically modified herbicide-tolerant mustard crop and asked the Centre whether there was any “compelling reason” to permit it now.
“Is there any compelling reason to allow it now…. Indian farmers are not like western farmers and literacy about gene mutations is less among them,” a bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and B V Nagarathna observed while asking attorney general R Venkararamani the reasons for allowing commercial use of GM-mustard crops.
The AG replied that there were no compelling reasons as such but it is the culmination of a long procedure of study and research over the years. “It is not a question of compulsion but the process. If there is nothing problematic in the whole process which took 10-12 years, there is nothing wrong in the decision taken by the government,” he told the bench.
“If you have followed all the procedures and all the anxiety and concerns have been addressed then there is no need for any compelling reason to move ahead,” he said. The government said production of mustard production in the country has to be doubled in the next 5-10 years for which hybrid crops are required to increase the yield.
“False fears are being spread on contamination of indigenous germplasm and the ability of the farmers to keep his/her own seed. Government figures suggest that currently 63% of the seeds is replaced – that is, farmers buy fresh seeds of notified public varieties or seeds of hybrids and varieties sold by private companies. Farmers are advised to earmark the area from which the seed can be harvested, preferably from the middle of the field. Maintenance of purity at farmer’s level is not an issue at all,” the Centre said in its reply.