India says No to Bt-brinjal
India says No to Bt-brinjal
Thanks to Jairam Ramesh, environment Minister of India for your real concern to Indian Farmers and Indian Agriculture.
Now you have become the Hero in the eyes of Farmers of India. And also you have saved crores of Indian consumers through your firm stand of not allowing the commercial cultivation of Bt – brinjal in India, thanks a lot to you again.
According to reports from Press Trust of India (PTI) , Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) and other agencies, Mr. Jairam Ramesh announced the decision to put a moratorium on the release of Bt- brinjal till such time independent scientific studies prove, to the satisfaction of both the public and professionals, the safety of the product from long-term view on impact on human health.
If allowed it would have been the first genetically modified food crop in India. India has already allowed commercial production of Bt.Cotton. But farmers, particularly who grown Bt – Cotton faced several problems including pest problem, though scientists said that Bt. Crops will disease free.
In this backdrop, massive opposition came not only from farmers but also from Indian Scientists, Non Governmental organisations, political parties and others. Union Minister Jairam Ramesh conducted nationwide consultation meetings which saw widespread protests.
Even the last consultation meeting held at Bangalore witnessed massive protests and several protestors got arrested. Several States including Karnataka, West Bengal, Jarkhand, Madhya Pradesh etc opposed Bt- brinjal and announced that they will ban Bt.brinjal.
Union Minister announced at Bangalore that he would announce his decision on 10th February 2010. But he announced his decision one day ahead.
Here is the reports by PTI and IANS. Pls go through.:
Union Minister of Bt-brinjal commercial cultivation put on hold
New Delhi, Feb 9 (PTI) Giving in to intense opposition from NGOs and several states, government today put on hold commercial cultivation of genetically modified brinjal citing lack of clear consensus within the scientific community.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced the decision to put a moratorium on the release of Bt-brinjal till such time independent scientific studies establish, to the satisfaction of both the public and professionals, the safety of the product from long-term view on impact on human health.
“A moratorium implies rejection of this particular case of release for the time being; it does not, in any way, mean conditional acceptance,” he said.
“I am not getting into any timeframe … the moratorium will continue for as long as it is needed to establish public trust and confidence,” he said.
Ramesh made it clear that the moratorium was only confined to Bt-brinjal and the decision did not cover the larger issue of genetic engineering and biotechnology in agriculture.
The decision was arrived at after month-long public consultations by the minister in seven cities across the country, that often turned acrimonious. A number of state governments, including Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh, have publicly opposed the introduction of Bt brinjal.
Ramesh also discussed the issue with several eminent scientists, including M S Swaminathan.
Biotech regulator the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had in October last year recommended going ahead with commercial cultivation of Bt-brinjal but left a final decision to the minister.
There was uproar from several quarters, including leading scientists and civil society groups, over the GEAC suggestions following which Ramesh decided to hold public consultations.
Questions were also raised on the integrity of the members of the GEAC as one third of the members of the Expert Committee-II (EC-II), who were also part of previous such panel, chose to discard the need for any further studies.
Leading scientist P M Bhargava had claimed that the Chairman of EC-II had agreed with his assessment that eight essential tests had not been conducted by Mahyco.
Noting that the current standards of the GEAC in formulation of the decision on Bt-brinjal did not match with the global regulatory norms, Ramesh said “GEAC processes need to be changed and made more transparent”.
Ramesh noted that a National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority has been on the anvil for six years and the moratorium period should be used to operationalise the body in its entirety as being recommended by many scientists and civil society groups.
The decision should not be construed as discouraging on-going R&D in using tools of modern biotechnology for crop improvement as issues of this kind need to be examined and decided on a case-by-case basis, he said.
India says no to Bt Brinjal, pending tests
New Delhi, Feb 9 (IANS) Placing an indefinite moratorium on the commercial release of Bt Brinjal, which would otherwise have been the first genetically modified food crop in India, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday said he took the “precautionary approach” as there was no clear consensus on the subject among Indian scientists.
“Impose a moratorium on the release of Bt Brinjal till such time that independent scientific studies establish satisfaction of both public and professionals, the safety of the product from the point of view of long-term impact on human health and environment,” Ramesh said at a press conference here.
He pointed to the opposition to the genetically modified vegetable from 11 state governments, green activists and farmers during his public hearings over the issue at seven cities around the country.
“The decision is based on information that there is no clear consensus within the scientific community. The environmental scientists raised so many questions which were not satisfactorily answered,” Ramesh said.
“There was also so much opposition from various states,” he said, adding that the “negative public sentiments” could not be ignored since there is no “overriding urgency to clear Bt Brinjal”.
Ramesh clarified that the moratorium in no way implied a “conditional acceptance” of Bt Brinjal.
“I would like to say that this approach (moratorium) is responsible to the scientific community and responsive to the society,” he said.
The minister also clarified that the moratorium was to the version of Bt Brinjal being developed by Maharashtra-based firm Mahyco. Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore, the University of Agriculture in Dharwad (Karnataka) and two laboratories of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research are also developing genetically modified versions of brinjal.
Asked about the possibility of spurious Bt Brinjal seeds making their way into the market, Ramesh said it was up to state governments to check this. “I hope we don’t see a repeat of Bt Cotton where spurious and illegal Bt Cotton seeds found their way into the market,” he said.
The decision on Bt Brinjal was originally scheduled to be announced Wednesday, but the environment minister advanced the declaration by a day. The issue has raised tempers around the country and in political circles.
The agriculture and science and technology ministries had supported the commercial release of Bt Brinjal after the government’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee had cleared it last October. It was up to the environment ministry to decide on the matter.
Ramesh said his decision followed consultation with senior scientists including M.S. Swaminathan, the father of India’s Green Revolution. “I have spoken to a large number of scientists, but in this case science is inadequate,” he said.
India is the world’s largest brinjal producer. West Bengal produces more than any other state, and the Left Front government there was one of the 11 that had declared it would not allow commercial release of Bt Brinjal.
The supporters of the genetically modified crop have pointed out that it would reduce pesticide use and thus improve yields, while bringing down input costs for farmers.
But, Ramesh pointed out: “I am in no hurry (to introduce Bt Brinjal). There is no overriding food security argument to Bt Brinjal.”
–Indo-Asian News Service
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