The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered status quo on a recent decision of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to approve genetically-modified mustard for commercial cultivation.

A bench of Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia asked Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati appearing for the Respondent to ensure that "no precipitative action is taken" until an application filed before it in this regard is heard.

"Additional solicitor general prays for and is granted time for putting the response in relation to IA No. 122182 of 2021 on record, along with additional affidavit and additional documents," the order read.

"The petitioner may also file additional documents. We would request the learned counsel for the parties to also file short notes on their proposed submissions before the matter is taken up next," the bench said and posted the matter for hearing on November 10.

Appearing for the Petitioner, Advocate Prashant Bhushan informed the Court that it had, in 2012, formed a technical expert committee with broad terms of reference to examine in detail the matter of GM (genetically modified) crops in India.

The GEAC, which functions under the Union environment ministry, has recommended the environmental release of GM mustard, which, according to experts, paves the way for its commercial cultivation.

The move comes amid opposition from green groups, which say commercial cultivation of GM mustard could have an adverse impact on human health and food security.

According to the minutes of the October 18 meeting, the GEAC, the country's regulator for genetically-modified organisms, recommended the "environmental release of mustard hybrid DMH-11 for its seed production and testing as per existing ICAR guidelines and other extant rules and regulations before commercial release".

The transgenic mustard hybrid, DMH-11, has been developed by the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants (CGMCP) at the Delhi University.

Cause Title – Gene Campaign & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Order

With PTI Inputs