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PIL: prohibit release of harmful GM seeds

Legal Correspondent

Supreme Court issues notice to Centre


GMO seeds pass on strands of pesticide to

human body

Biosafety tests not being conducted


New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre on a public interest litigation petition seeking a moratorium on release of genetically modified organism/seeds having the potential of causing major health hazards.

After hearing counsel Prashant Bhushan, a Bench, consisting of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and J.M. Panchal, asked the Centre to file its response in two weeks and the applicant, Aruna Rodrigues, a rejoinder in one week thereafter. It directed that the matter be listed for the third week of September.

Aruna Rodrigues and three other petitioners contended that the GMO seeds were a pest-resistant, high-producing variety, but with the inherent drawback of passing on strands of pesticide to the human body that could in future blow up as multiple health problems. These included risks of new kinds of allergies, greatly increased resistance to antibiotics, and severe toxicity to humans, animals and micro organisms, resulting in serious import on human health, loss of wildlife and biodiversity.

Precautionary principle

The petitioners said the use of technology of genetic engineering and release of GM organisms into the environment would require application of precautionary principle to ensure that no harm was caused to human and animal health and environment.

The petition pointed out that a large number of biosafety tests, required to be conducted on GMOs before they could be approved for safe release into the environment, were not being done. An “irreversible loss of genetic diversity through the release of GMOs is the most serious hazard to be confronted and it will hugely impact the farming environment. This will devastate Indian agriculture.”

In these circumstances, the petition said, it became imperative to immediately put a moratorium on further environmental release of any GMO until a comprehensive and independent testing facility was set up in India, and to ban import of any GM product.

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