Court opts to see scientific documents

July 31, 2013

Modified Brinjal
Court opts to see scientific documents
The High Court yesterday directed the government and the petitioners to submit by September 19 scientific documents, if there are any, on whether Bt brinjal is harmful to public health and the environment.
It gave the directive while hearing two writ petitions challenging a government move to release the genetically modified (GM) crop — Bt brinjal — for the first time in the country.
The HC adjourned the hearing till September 19.
The writs were filed by an organiser of Naya Krishi Andolon, Farida Akhter, and Sakiul Millat Morshed, executive director of Shishuk, an NGO.
The petitioners’ counsels Adilur Rahman Khan and Shahidul Islam pleaded to the court that the government should not release the GM crop since it is harmful to public health and the environment.
They prayed to the court to issue a rule upon the government to explain why its “failure to analyse and assess the deadly risks of this crop to public health and harm to ecological balance” should not be declared illegal.
Opposing the writ petitions, Additional Attorney General Momtajuddin Fakir said Bt brinjal is not harmful. Rather, it is a high yielding crop which does not need insecticides, he added.
He prayed to the HC bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain to summarily reject both the petitions.
During hearing, the presiding judge told the lawyers that they did not get any definite information on whether Bt brinjal is harmful or not from them and their arguments were not based on scientific documents.
The writ petitions are quite premature since these were based on assumption, the judge said. The court will consider giving an order on the petitions, if the petitioners and the government could produce scientific documents before it, he added.
On July 15, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (Bari) applied to the National Technical Committee for Crop Biotechnology seeking commercial release of Bt brinjal next month.
Earlier, Bangladeshi scientists had readied the country’s first GM crop — brinjal infused with pest-resistant genes — which could see a drastic fall in the use of harmful pesticides in the crop.

-With The Daily Star input

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