HC bars Bt Brinjal's release
Six day after a High Court bench allowed the government to release the genetically modified (GM) Bt Brinjal, another bench yesterday barred it until an independent research, based on Codex Alimentarius Commission's (CAC) standards, is conducted.
CAC was constituted by Food and Agriculture Organization and World Health Organization in 1963 to determine standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods and food production and safety.
Bt Brinjal is infused with pest-resistant genes that will see a drastic fall in the use of harmful pesticides, said scientists who developed the variety at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI).
The bench of Justice Mirza Hussain Haider and Justice Muhammmad Khurshid Alam Sarkar directed the government to submit a report before it within the next three months after conducting the research.
It also issued a rule upon the government to explain in four weeks why the release move should not be declared illegal.
The order was passed following a writ petition filed by Sakiul Millat Morshed, executive director of non-government organisation Shishuk, challenging the legality of the government move to release a GM crop for the first time in the country.
The bench that allowed the release on September 23 comprised Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice ABM Altaf Hossain.
It had rejected two separate writ petitions by Sakiul and Farida Akhter, organiser of rights body Naya Krishi Andolon, challenging the release's legality considering that the petitions did not have adequate information.
Sakiul's lawyer Shahidul Islam told The Daily Star that the fresh petition contained new grounds.
One states that there is no law in Bangladesh to regulate GM foods and therefore, if there was any adverse effect to human health, its liability can not be determined, he said.
Another mentioned Indian Lok Sabha's 37th report which states that GM Brinjal is harmful for human health and environment.
On July 15, BARI applied to the National Technical Committee for Crop Biotechnology (NTCCB), seeking commercial release of Bt Brinjal, and the NTCCB referred it to its expert committee for review.