Skip to main content

Solicitor General of India's utterances in the GM case 'misleading and irrelevant': NGO

Counterview Desk 
The  Coalition for a GM Free India has
 said, it condemns "misleading and irrelevant" utterances by the Solicitor General in the GM Case, equating the "highly-avoidable risk of some amount of GM edible oil imports illegally with the risk of cultivation of HT crops in Indian conditions.
Stating that it "defies the very science of risk assessment", the top advocacy group underlines in a statement, "Several illegal and improper procedures were followed for biosafety assessment and clearance given to environmental release of GM mustard." 
It adds, "No health expert participated in the health safety assessment of GM mustard."


The Coalition for a GM-Free India condemns the irrelevant and misleading arguments of the Solicitor General of India on 18th January 2024, when the Supreme Court of India reserved the batch of petitions related to GMOs including GM foods for judgement. Gene technologies in agriculture constitute irreversible and uncontrollable living technologies, pointed out the Coalition, and reiterated that the unanimous report of independent technical experts of the Court have asked for abundant caution, based on a precautionary approach. Such a precautionary approach is based on extensive published scientific evidence on the subject. Equating the avoidable risk involved in some amount of GM edible oil imports with the cultivation of herbicide tolerant crops in the country defies the very science of risk assessment in regulation, said the Coalition. Even the import of GM edible oil is patently illegal and has not undergone proper risk assessment, while the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has not yet notified regulations under Sec.22 of the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. In fact, the FSSAI stands in contempt of SC Orders of 2017 on this subject.
The Coalition said that the SG’s appearance and incorrect utterances were left without a counter from the petitioners, since the Hon’ble Bench immediately and unfortunately reserved the matter for judgement. “The Coalition is forced to put out this public statement urging the Hon’ble Bench of the Supreme Court to consider all aspects highlighted in the batch of petitions filed by numerous public- spirited groups and citizens, in addition to farmers and beekeepers whose livelihoods are at stake”.
The proceedings in the batch of petitions including the main petitions of 115/2004, 260/2005 and 840/2016 related to GMOs and their regulation in India, as well as GM HT mustard environmental release in particular witnessed the last-minute entry of SG. Before this, a Supreme Court Bench consisting of Hon'ble Justice BV Nagarathna and Hon'ble Justice Sanjay Karol heard arguments from all sides. The SG, during his arguments pointed to two facts relevant to the case – that of illegal imports of GM edible oil, and that GM mustard is herbicide-tolerant. The SG argued unscientifically that consumption of GM edible oil has not caused any health impacts on Indian population, without providing an iota of scientific evidence to substantiate this statement. 
The SG is indeed right in pointing out that the Hon’ble Court has to adjudicate on whether India should opt for GM HT mustard cultivation, even as we import some quantities of GM soybean oil. The Supreme Court is urged by the Coalition to recognise the irreversible risks associated with GM crop cultivation, and the additional risks of Herbicide Tolerant Crops – this is about environmental risks to our soils, our mustard germplasm diversity, on honeybees and other beneficial insects, on livelihoods of farmers, beekeepers and farm labourers, on trade security related to mustard and honey etc.. 
The following remain irrefutable facts in the matter:
1. India imports negligible quantities of GM canola oil into the country (just about 7 to 25 thousand metric tonnes, while the overall edible oil import quantities are around 14.5 million metric tonnes). India is self-sufficient in mustard oil – while the production is around 3.9 million metric tonnes, the domestic consumption is 3.95 million metric tonnes.
2. Price of edible oil is not an issue for consumers of the country, given that India at present imports cheap palmolein oil made cheaper by anti-farmer ex-im policy decisions by government. The vast majority of imported edible oil is cheap, non-GM palmolein oil (9 MMT of 14.5 MMT = 62%), while the SG went on and on about how access to cheap oil has to be kept in mind by the Supreme Court while weighing the risks and benefits of GM HT mustard. Soybean oil import is 3.2 MMT (only 22%) and not all of this is GM soybean oil. 
3. Meanwhile, GM HT mustard even in the clandestine illegal trials conducted in Rabi 2022-23 did not show any oil increases compared to non-GM hybrids. Earlier data on GM mustard hybrid yield increases were rigged and unscientific, and as the petitioners pointed out, the Union of India admitted in writing in its own affidavits that there is no yield increase claim that can be made about GM HT mustard. Across the world, in several countries, non-GM hybrids are out-performing GM canola substantially.
4. GM mustard of Delhi University is herbicide tolerant, by virtue of the fact that it has bar gene present in both parental lines, enhanced for its increased expression by a special genetic modification built into the GM mustard hybrid. Bar gene is tolerant is glufosinate, which has several health risks, as can be seen in published scientific literature. Both the Bar-bargene-barstar technology originally taken from Bayer and glufosinate were patented technologies and the terms and conditions related to the use of the technology have never been made public so far. 
5. India is a Centre of Diversity for Mustard, and the AG’s presentation of a published paper in Nature is about Centre of Origin of Brassica juncea. The TEC and other credible high level committees have recommended against gene technologies in crops for which India is the Centre of Origin and/or Diversity. 
6. Several illegal and improper procedures were followed for biosafety assessment and clearance given to environmental release of GM mustard. No health expert participated in the health safety assessment of GM mustard. Moreover, GM mustard was never tested as a HT crop and there are no protocols for the testing of HT crops in India’s regulatory regime.
7. The full biosafety dossier was never published on the regulators’ website as ordered by the Supreme Court and CIC. 


Maya Valecha said…
Did Coalition for GM free India oppose GMO Covishield vax injected to 80% of the people who received vax? It wasn't even needed as 80% showed antibodies b4 the vax roll out ICMRstudies. 99.5% of people had immune memory from previous Coronavirus exposure. IgG produced by all is the proof.


'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site The article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.