Supreme Court says no to GM products till further orders

By Indo Asian News Service | Friday, September 22, 2006 | 5:23:48 PM IST (+05:30 GMT) Comment 0 Comment

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday asked the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) not to give approvals to genetically modified products until further orders.

New Delhi, Sep 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court Friday asked the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) not to give approvals to genetically modified products until further orders.

A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justices C.K. Thakker and R.V. Raveendran gave the direction on an application filed by Aruna Rodrigues and three others in a public interest litigation seeking a ban on the release of genetically modified organisms/seeds having the potential of causing major health hazards.

Counsel Prashant Bhushan alleged that the policy of the government was to give speedy clearance to genetically modified organisms even before putting in place a mechanism to test their bio-safety value. He pleaded for a stay against grant of fresh approvals and of all field trials on genetically modified crops.

In its brief order, the bench said 'we are not inclined to direct stoppage of all field trials at this stage without the stand of the respondents. At the same time we deem it appropriate to direct GEAC to withhold the approvals till further directions are issued on hearing all concerned. The government would also consider associating independent experts in the field in the GEAC.'

It listed the matter after two weeks.

The petitioners said the use of technology of genetic engineering and release of GM organisms into the environment would require application of precautionary principle, which mandated that every possible precaution must be taken to ensure that no harmful effects are caused to human and animal health and environment.

They said genetic engineering if allowed to proceed unchecked would change the molecular structure of the world's food. In India, if the GEAC's reckless rush into GM foods was not checked, this process would be the fastest and riskiest experiment anywhere with irreversible impacts on our farmers, their crop choices, our food and health.

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