The government told the Supreme Court that approval for the “environmental” release of the transgenic mustard hybrid DMH-11 was given to the Center for Genetic Manipulation of Cultivated Plants (CGMCP) after a lengthy and extensive review process. comprehensive, which began in 2010.
This comes after the court told the Center on November 3 not to allow the planting of genetically modified (GM) mustard until the next hearing.
The Center had told the court that it needed time to document the latest facts.
The affidavit is perhaps the first formal government acknowledgment of the processes followed in the DMH-11 environmental release granted last month.
In its 67-page affidavit, the Center provided the background to the CGMCP’s application, the government’s decision-making process, the regulatory framework under which authorization was granted to DMH-11, and its scientific and social significance. -economic. for the country.
He said the conditional approval (of DMH-11) was for environmental release prior to commercial release and was subject to regulatory and technical oversight.
Bench Judge Dinesh Maheshwari and Judge Sudhanshu Dhulia said in the last hearing that the petitioners pointed out that the harvest was unsafe.
The government has suggested that the Supreme Court’s inquiry be limited to determining whether there was an adequate regulatory mechanism governing this area and whether there had been substantive compliance with it.
“Pre-market environmental release approval involves testing hybrid DMH-11 and developing new hybrids under the supervision of Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR). Approval is subject to technical oversight and regulatory,” the Center said.
According to the Centre, 50-60% of edible oil in India is imported and hence the use of new genetic technologies is relevant to reduce the dependence on imports.
“Hybrids give (higher yields than) traditional varieties (do). GM mustard was not developed as a herbicide tolerant (HT) technology,” he said.
The Center said the term HT, or herbicide tolerant, would only be appropriate when the trait of the hybrid was the commercial trait, which was the only reason to allow GM mustard from an environmental perspective.
In this case, the TH trait is a selectable marker (identifying GM plants) for experimental use during the event development phase, followed by limited herbicide use in the isolation seed production phase. genetics of other mustard varieties.
The Center said mustard was grown on 8-9 million hectares and the seed replacement rate (farmers buying fresh seed) was 63%.
In addition, the irrigated area reached 83% of the total under mustard. Despite this, mustard yields are stagnating, the affidavit reads.
“As India imports and consumes oil derived from GM crops, opposition to these (technologies) based on unfounded fears will only harm farmers, consumers and industry,” the official said. Center.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing petitioner Aruna Rodrigues, had said that the court-appointed Committee of Technical Experts (TEC) had advised against the use of any herbicide-tolerant crop.
“He also said that the regulatory system in India was in shambles and needed revamping,” he said.
Bhushan said consolidation of the system required at least 10 years.
The next court date in the case is set for November 17.