Chattisgarh says 'no' to Bt brinjal

Even before it is approved by the union government, the Chhattisgarh government has banned commercial cultivation of genetically modified `Bt brinjal' in the state. The ban follows the controversial in-principle nod by the genetic engineering approval committee of the central government for commercial farming of the variety.

The decision was taken after the state government sought suggestions from agriculture experts and senior officials of the agriculture department. The suggestions were solicited following large-scale protests against Bt brinjal, a pest-resistant variety of the vegetable.

"After discussing the matter with the experts and senior officials, the Chhattisgarh government has decided to ban the commercial farming of the genetically modified Bt brinjal," state agriculture minister Chandrashekhar Sahu said.

The state government would not allow commercial cultivation of the brinjal variety till a comprehensive trial of its effects on humans and animals was known, the minister said.

The state government had written letters to union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh apprising them about its decision, Sahu said.

Sahu said the use of genetically modified seeds would push the traditional variety of brinjal on the verge of extinction, while the farmers would depend on the multinational companies to get the seeds at much higher price. The minister said many countries in America and Europe had the banned commercial farming of genetically modified crops.