Activists allege regulatory lapses in approving GM mustard


Women carry fodder for their cattle through a mustard field on the outskirts of Srinagar. File
| Photo Credit: Reuters

The Coalition for a GM-Free India, a platform that’s fighting a case in the Supreme Court against the trials of genetically modified mustard, released a report in New Delhi on Friday to showcase at least 15 instances of alleged regulatory lapses in the appraisal and approval of Delhi University’s GM “Herbicide Tolerant or HT” mustard.

The platform alleged that the Centre is trying to mislead the Supreme Court by maintaining that there are no regulatory lapses in the development of the GM mustard. The office-bearers of the platform said that without a formal approval letter being issued, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) jumped into the picture on behalf of a third party applicant to ensure that seeds are planted in “great haste”. Citing Right to Information (RTI) responses, they said no health expert had ever participated in the GM mustard appraisal. They argued that the testing of GM mustard for environmental safety violates the limited guidelines/protocols laid down in the country’s regulatory regime.

Their report said the approval of GM HT mustard demonstrated the “total failure” of country’s limited biosafety regulations and also the serious deficiencies in the regulatory regime. The report added: “Health and Environmental Safety have been seriously compromised in GM mustard approval. State Governments’ Constitutional authority over Agriculture has been violated and bypassed and States have not even been consulted, the way they were in the case of Bt brinjal. India, a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, has also violated international commitments in the approval of GM mustard. Indian Government and regulators have clearly ignored and neglected the Supreme Court’s Technical Expert Committee’s science-based recommendation to ban HT crops in India.”

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