India dumps Bt brinjal

The minister for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh today announced a moratorium on the introduction of genetically modified brinjal for commercial cultivation in the country, amidst reports that the United States is lobbying hard for its introduction.

Announcing the decision, Jairam Ramesh said there was not enough scientific research material available on the possible long term impact of the genetically modified (GM) crop.

Ramesh said he was imposing a moratorium on GM crops till such time that independent scientific research produced satisfactory results.

The minister also cited opposition from states, the scientific community, NGOs and even common man to the introduction of gene-altered seeds for commercial cultivation in the absence of sufficient proof that it won't harm farmers' interests.
"When there is no unity among scientists on the issue (introduction of Bt brinjal) and state governments have opposed it, it is my duty to adopt a precautionary approach," he said.

The government's decision to allow commercial cultivation of the genetically modified brinjal had invited a lot of flak.

He said the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) would look into the matter afresh in the light of the views expressed by eminent scientists like Swaminathan and Bhargava.