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SC questions Govt: Has GEAC considered TEC’s report on GM mustard release?

Scientists, activists unhappy with ICAR's 'gag' order on GM mustard

SC questions Govt: Has GEAC considered TEC’s report on GM mustard release?

On January 11, the Supreme Court of India questioned the government about whether the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) had considered the court-appointed Technical Experts Committee’s (TEC) biosafety reports on transgenic mustard hybrid DMH-11 before approving its release into the environment.

Attorney General R. Venkataramani, representing the Centre, stated before a Bench of Justices B.V. Nagarathna and Sanjay Karol that the GEAC was a statutory body that had reviewed relevant scientific data before approving the environmental release.

“We’re asking because the GEAC didn’t work in a vacuum. These reports included a dissenting note submitted to the court by R.S. Paroda, an agricultural scientist. Will these reports be sent to the record room?” Justice Nagarathna asked.

Transparent framework

Mr. Venkataramani argued that a thorough examination of the TEC’s recommendations and the Center’s actions reveals that the regulatory regime has been strengthened since 2012 to ensure a transparent and science-based framework for assessing the environmental risk of GM crops.

He stated that the conditional approval granted for the environmental release of GM mustard demonstrated effective implementation of the strengthened regulatory framework.

“Even for the grant of conditional approval for environmental release, a rigorous risk analysis approach was taken,” Mr. Venkataramani told reporters.

Also Read | Govt responds to activists’ claim of regulatory flaws in GM mustard approval

Advocate Prashant Bhushan for petitioner Aruna Rodrigues claimed that the GEAC’s regulatory system was “horrendous” and riddled with conflicts of interest.

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