Bhubaneswar: India is in no hurry to
introduce commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal, Environment
Minister Jairam Ramesh said here on Saturday after facing stiff
opposition at a public hearing here.
"We have been waiting for introduction of Bt Brinjal
for the last seven years. If needed, the government can wait
another seven years. If farmers don`t want it, Bt Brinjal will
not come," Ramesh told reporters after a consultative meeting
with farmers, women’s groups and students who expressed stiff
opposition to commercial cultivation of genetically modified
He faced slogans like `Don`t kill home-grown seeds`
and `Ramesh Go Back`.
Ramesh said he had sought the opinion of seven
brinjal-producing states and Orissa and Bihar were opposed to
introduction of Bt Brinjal on a commercial basis.
Orissa, Bengal and Bihar together produced 60 percent of
brinjals in the country, he said.
"There is a need for greater communication between
scientists and farmers. There is a huge gap. By and large,
people are worried about human safety," Ramesh said, adding
farmers were also worried over the death of genetic diversity
and medicinal properties of the home grown brinjal.
This was the second of the seven public consultative
meetings on Bt Brinjal (Bacillus Thuringiensis) for commercial
The controversy over introduction of genetically modified
brinjal began since October 14 last year after the Genetic
Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) cleared its commercial
On GEAC, Ramesh said there should be a change in its
nomenclature. It should be an assessment committee instead of
an approval committee.
The government of India should place an independent body
for bio-technological development of this kind, he said.
Stating that he was always in favour of farmers, the
minister said had he been in a haste, he would have approved
GEAC`s approval instead of holding a country-wide
To a question, Ramesh said the opinion of agriculture
and Health Ministry would also be taken as the issue was
related to health and cultivation.