Supreme Court says no to GM seedsThe Supreme Court on Wednesday issued an interim order to the government to prohibit imports of genetically modified (GM) seeds including those supplied by Monsanto.
The newfangled seeds can be used for growing crops only once, and cannot be reproduced unlike regular seeds. Judge Baidya Nath Upadhyay gave the ruling in response to a petition filed by Advocate Arjun Aryal.
The ban will remain in effect until Jan 16. The court will then decide whether the stay should be continued after hearing arguments of the petitioner and the defendant.
The Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Research Council (Narc), among others, have been named defendants in the writ.
Aryal filed the writ on Dec. 29 seeking court intervention after a number of companies were reported to be preparing to import GM seeds. He has mentioned in his plea that GM seeds push out local seed varieties and affect biodiversity.
They are also harmful to public health. Similarly, he has argued that importing seeds from foreign firms results in a huge outflow of money.
The petition was filed against a backdrop of protests against the controversial multinational corporation's entry into Nepal's seed business. Civil society organisations, the National Right to Food Network, NGOs and farmer groups have also been demanding that the government immediately ban imports of the seed.
The Seeds Act 1988 and Seeds Regulation 2012 permit imports, after fulfilling the necessary legal procedures, of only those hybrid seeds that do not pose a risk to the environment and public health. According to experts, GM seeds using the terminator technology (non-transferable gene) are good for one-time use and cannot be reproduced.
Although the regulation has allowed the registration of only those GMO products that do not threaten the ecology and human health, the absence of a strong legal framework and lack of an implementing agency has made it difficult for the government to control sales of such products in the domestic market.
Out of the 556 types of seeds being used in the country, 215 have been developed domestically while the rest are imported. According to Narc, the imported seeds consist of 17 paddy, 32 maize and 292 vegetable seeds. Currently, four vegetable and five maize seeds developed by Monsanto are sold in Nepal, according to the Ministry of Agriculture Development.