Now Tamil Nadu brings temporary ban on 'Bt brinjal'

Tamil Nadu has followed other states like West Bengal, Bihar, Orrisa and Chattisgarh in virtually imposing a temporary ban on commercial cultivation of genetically modified `Bt brinjal' in the state. (See: Chattisgarh says 'no' to Bt brinjal and Orissa joins other states in banning engineered brinjal)

With farmers and environmental activists calling on the state to ban Bt brinjal, a pest-resistant variety of the vegetable, the Tamil Nadu government said in a release, ''The officials have been directed not to sell this variety or give permission for cultivating Bt brinjal in Tamil Nadu.''

The release was in response to representatives of NGO Poovulagin Nanbargal, Safe Food Alliance, Tamil Nadu Women's Collective and Tamil Nadu Organic Farmers Federation meeting Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi at his residence to urge him to impose a blanket ban on Bt Brinjal.

Karunanidhi told the representatives that he has officials to issue orders that Bt Brinjal should not be cultivated or sold in Tamil Nadu unless the government ruled otherwise, which in effect is virtually a ban on cultivation of the vegetable.

But last week, union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said that he would stand by his decision to go ahead with commercially using Bt Brinjal as in the long run it would be advantageous to the country.

Meanwhile, the stand-off between union ministers for agriculture and environment, Sharad Pawar and Jairam Ramesh, over clearance to Bt brinjal for commercial sharpened last week with the Congress openly supporting Ramesh.