11 January 2024, New Delhi: On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reopened its hearing on several petitions contesting the central government’s decision to commercially grow genetically modified (GM) mustard.
Justice Dinesh Maheshwari, who is now retired, presided over the panel that initially considered these pleas. However, this matter was brought before the Chief Justice of India for reassignment to another bench following his retirement in May of last year, which left the hearing unfinished.
Ram Kaundinya, Advisor with the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) said, “We are optimistic that a holistic picture emerges by recognizing the significant role of technology in increasing agricultural production, solid scientific evidence, India’s robust regulatory systems and the nation’s long-term interests.”
He further said, “It is essential that the country’s aspirations in terms of reducing the huge edible oil imports, saving huge foreign exchange, boosting productivity and farmers’ incomes are given due importance as discussions progress. Hence, we are hopeful that the cultural, social, and nutritional importance of mustard for India are recognized while deliberating the issue holistically.”
The industry body believes that the regulatory process adopted for scrutinizing GM crops in India including the biosafety protocols adhered to by GEAC and RCGM for GM approvals, are not only robust but align with globally accepted and benchmarked standards.
Innovations including GM, hold great potential to make crops resistant to pests and diseases, enhance climate resilience, and contribute to sustainable agricultural practices. Thus, India needs to be open to exploring such innovative technologies to transform its agrarian sector, which forms the basis of the livelihoods of nearly two-third of the population.
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