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SC Issues Notice to Centre on Plea for GM Crops' Moratorium
Press Trust, India, August 12 2008

New Delhi (PTI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice to the Centre on an application seeking a moratorium on release of any genetically-modified crop till an independent testing lab is being set up in the country.

A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan sought response from the Centre on an application of Aruna Rodrigues, who is carrying out a legal battle against GM crops, seeking a moratorium on release of any genetically-modified (GM) crop, complete ban on import of any GM
product, including GM content in foods, and setting up of an independent testing facility at par with the international standards.

The SC asked the government to comply with its earlier directions issued on April 8 this year asking it to put all the data related to toxicity and allergenicity of GM crops on the website of Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the only authority empowered to release GMOs into environment under the Rules of 1989 governing the technology under the Environment Protection Act.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Rodrigues, said a vast majority of bio-safety tests, which are required before such crops are allowed for safe release into the environment, were not being conducted. Whatever tests had been done were being carried out by the applicant company, "which has a clear commercial interest".

Rodrigues, while highlighting various loopholes in the present bio-testing system, pointed to the extensive communication between P M Bhargava, an international expert in molecular biology, and GEAC.

The petitioner, on the basis of an opinion of Bhargava, has sought a "review of six years of Bt cotton experience" as it was necessary that review must take place during a full moratorium on all GM crops,
including Bt cotton.

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