New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought form an expert committee a report on desirability of the field trials for genetically modified crops within three months.
A bench headed by Chief Justice S H Kapadia asked the committee to submit the report on whether field trials for GMO (genetically modified organisms) can be completely banned and if they are to be allowed what should be the protocol.
The bench directed the committee to submit an interim report on the issue within three months if the final one is not possible.
The court passed the orders on a PIL filed in 2004 by NGO, Gene Campaign and anti-GMO activist Aruna Rodrigues, who had sought a complete moratorium on field trial for GMO.
The bench said the expert committee would be appointed in terms of the reference accepted earlier by the parties.
The apex court is hearing the plea on which it had on September 22, 2006 restrained the Genetic Engineering Advisory Committee (GEAC) from granting approval for the GM crops. However, it had modified its order on May 8, 2007 allowing it to look into 24 varieties of the transgenic food.
The petitioner had alleged that GEAC was not properly constituted and allowing the open field trials for transgenic seeds will lead to contamination of related species and environment as proper safety guidelines were not in place.
The issue of GM crops have been in the apex court since 2004 and it has passed several orders.
While allowing the field trials, the court had imposed certain restriction including that the government should increase the isolation distance up to 200 metres between the GM planted fields and the other fields and a protocol for testing contamination up to 0.01 percent of neighbouring fields was established.
It had also said a designated scientist should be made responsible for ensuring that all the conditions were complied with during the field trials of GM seeds.