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Will not oppose Bt brinjal blindly: Agriculture Ministry

Last Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 15:56

New Delhi: The agriculture ministry would not "blindly oppose" the introduction of Bt brinjal, a genetically modified variety of the vegetable, after its commercialisation was approved by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), Minister of State for Agriculture KV Thomas said here Thursday.

The GEAC, the biotechnology regulator, Wednesday approved the commercialisation of genetically modified Bt brinjal. The decision was condemned by environmentalists, various NGOs and farmers` organisations. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has to decide on the approval now.
"Agriculture production will have to be increased once parliament passes the Food Security Act. So the government will have to rely on modern scientific methods to increase food production. We will not blindly oppose the introduction of Bt brinjal," Thomas said.

The minister said the agriculture ministry would examine the outcome of the scientific study on Bt Brinjal and later express its view.

"It will be going through an effective study and research. We will examine it and later come out with our view on it," Thomas said.

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said Wednesday that the GEAC`s recommendations and the review committee report had been submitted and these would be studied in depth before a decision was taken.
Civil society groups and NGOs have strongly condemned the GEAC`s decision.

The global environmental activist group, Greenpeace, expressed its shock and said GEAC had "mindlessly" gone ahead even when informed scientists and citizens of the country raised serious concerns on the nature of the safety studies.

"In June 2009, Jairam Ramesh, under whose ministry sits GEAC, stated in public forums that he does not support GE (genetically engineered) foods and there is no great urgency for Bt brinjal," the organisation said.

But Ramesh accused Greenpeace of spreading "wrong information" about the commercialisation of Bt brinjal.

The All-India Kisan Sabha said there is the threat of all future seeds and therefore Indian agriculture coming under the control of global multinational companies and the charging of exorbitant prices from farmers in the country.

The monopoly of multinational companies like Monsanto over the seeds is another major concern, as seeds are no longer in the public domain since they are now the "intellectual property" of these multinationals, the Kisan Sabha said in a statement.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 15:56
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