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Activists Accuse Centre of Misleading Apex Court on GM Mustard Issue

The Coalition of GM-free India claimed on November 28, 2022 that the Government of India (GoI) is misleading the Supreme Court on the contentious issue of genetically modified (GM) mustard. The coalition is an informal network of organisations and individuals working to keep India free of genetically modified organisms.

Shivam Dwivedi
No proof exists that GM Mustard will produce more than the current hybrid varieties. (Pic Credit- Live Law)
No proof exists that GM Mustard will produce more than the current hybrid varieties. (Pic Credit- Live Law)

A day before the Supreme Court hears a petition challenging the testing of genetically modified mustard, a group of scientists and activists urged the Centre to present "correct information" to the court.

They claimed that the Centre's affidavit on the matter was an attempt to mislead the court and demanded that the Centre be transparent in its filings because the issue affects the lives and livelihoods of all citizens of the country.

According to Dhiraj Singh, former Director of the Directorate of Rapeseed Mustard Research, the country's rapeseed-mustard production has increased by around 38% in the last decade.

"We are self-sufficient in mustard oil demand and supply, even though mustard oil accounts for only 15% of India's edible oil consumption. Furthermore, farmers already have more than a dozen non-GM mustard hybrid options on the market that outperform and outyield GM hybrids,” as per Dhiraj Singh.

“Agronomic research findings are also promising, with significant yield increases. Where is the need for GM mustard in this situation? "Why is the Supreme Court being told we need this risky and irreversible option?" he questioned.

They urged the Supreme Court to issue immediate orders to uproot and destroy the GM mustard crop planted in multiple locations in defiance of court orders.

According to Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India, the Centre provided incorrect information to the Supreme Court in at least five areas. No proof exists that it will produce more than the current hybrid varieties. 

"A herbicide tolerant crop has yet to be tested as a herbicide tolerant crop, and India lacks any specific regulatory protocols for the same. Conflict of interest persists, as does opaque functioning and the concealment of biosafety data," she said.

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