SC refuses to stay field trials of GM crops
With the Centre strongly favouring genetically modified crops, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to impose an interim ban on their field trials despite the court-appointed expert committee recommending the ban.chandigarh Updated: Nov 09, 2012 23:23 IST
With the Centre strongly favouring genetically modified crops, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to impose an interim ban on their field trials despite the court-appointed expert committee recommending the ban.
The government pleaded that the recommendation of the apex court-appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) for banning field trials of GM crops be rejected as the use of biotechnology in agriculture could bring about a second green revolution in the country.
"The revolution has been saturated at the producer and consumer levels and the methods of conventional breeding are showing very marginal increase in yield. Further, the use of inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides and irrigation schemes is expensive and unsustainable. Hence, biotechnology could bring in a second green revolution," the Centre said.
Appearing before a bench headed by justice Swatanter Kumar, Attorney General GE Vahanvati contended that field trials should be allowed to go on as the demand of food for the growing population could be met only through GM crops.
"... bearing in mind the far-reaching implications of this matter on food security and the pressing requirement of continuation of the ongoing research on the application of GM technology in improving agriculture productivity and production, it is humbly prayed that the proposed recommendation of the interim report of the TEC to impose a ban on field trials should be rejected outright," the Centre said in its affidavit.
The anti-GM activists, however, pleaded with the apex court to ban field trials as per the TEC's recommendation as these could cause irreversible damage to the environment.
The bench said it would not ban trials of GM crops and would wait for the committee's final report, even as it asked the TEC to submit the same in six weeks.
In its interim report, the five-member TEC recommended moratorium on all GM crop field trials till an independent committee of experts examined the potential impact of the technology.
Opposing the TEC's recommendations, the Centre contended that the genetic method was the only way for increasing farm output to ensure food security in the country.
"There is a need to increase foodgrain production from the current estimated supply of 257 million tonnes to 345 million tonnes by 2030. With no further possibility of increasing the net sown area, the only recourse left to meet the requirements of the country's food security is through increase in productivity.