Hamara Beej

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Public hearings on Bt Brinjal next month


New Delhi, Dec 30 (PTI) A series of public hearings will be held from January on the safety of Bt brinjal, the first genetically modified food crop recently cleared for commercial release by the central bio-tech regulator amid strong protests from environmentalists.

The Environment Ministry will call the first public consultation in Kolkata on January 13 while the next hearing will be held in Bhubaneshwar on January 16 and the third in Ahmedabad on January 19.

The fourth public hearing will be held in Hyderabad (January 22), fifth in Bangalore (January 23), sixth in Nagpur (January 27) and seventh in Chandigarh on January 30, a senior environment ministry official said.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh will personally attend the meetings to be held with scientists, agriculture experts, farmers' organizations, consumer groups and NGOs, the official said.

Funeral procession of Bt-Brinjal

24th Dec.09, Patna. GM Free Bihar Movement registered a strong protest against the GM Foods in Bihar by taking out a funeral procession of Bt-Brinjal in capital Patna on the national consumers day.

Hundreds of activists joined the 4-km long procession from the Vegetable Market to the capital hub Gandhi Maidan on Dec.24. 

On the way, leaflets against Bt-Brinjal were distributed among members of the public and signatures were also collected from them.

Awareness programme with regard to Bt-Brinjal was also organised at north Bihars major city Muzaffarpur which was attended among others by Deputy Mayor Md. Nisharuddin and environment expert Mr Suresh Gupta.

The awareness programme was attended by a large number of people, including farmers and women, who were also shown the film Poison on the Platter.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GM-Free Bihar Movement has charged the Union Environment and Forest Minister

Patna, 16.12.09. 
GM-Free Bihar Movement has charged the Union Environment and Forest Minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh with having a bias towards Bihar and being choosy in selecting venues for national consultancy in the run-up to taking the final decision on commercial use of Bt-brinjal crop.
“Bihar is an agriculture-based state with a large number of farmers and consumers being important stakeholders in any decision related to approving or disapproving the sale of the genetically modified brinjal. But, the minister has deliberately ignored Bihar in fixing a venue in the state for consultations with different walks of society,” the Movement said in a press release.
The minister had earlier announced that a national-level consultancy will be launched before the final call is made to decide the issue, after a government-appointed committee approved in October this year the commercial use of BT-Brinjal in the country.
“But the information received from the ministry reveal that only seven places (Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Bhubneswar, Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Nagpur and West Bengal) have been identified by the Environment Ministry for conducting the consultancy and Bihar does not figure in that list, which shows deliberate act on the part of the Union Minister to ignore Bihar,” the release said.
Pankaj Bhushan of the GM-Free Bihar Movement said hundreds of thousands of farmers and farmer organizations from Bihar had been sending mails and faxes to the Union Ministry against BT-Brinjal which should have been the reason enough for the Union Environment Ministry for consulting the people of Bihar on such an important issue.
“This is total denial of giving proper opportunity to people from Bihar to have their say,” he said, adding his organization will oppose tooth and nail any decision which adversely affected farmers and consumers of Bihar.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

How Bt brinjal was cleared

Anti-GM groups say expert panel acted under pressure
Savvy Soumya Misra


A COALITION of organizations opposed to genetically modified food in India has written to the minister of state for environment and forests seeking withdrawal of clearance given to Bt brinjal. The Coalition for GM-free India alleged the expert committee that cleared the genetically modified brinjal for commercial cultivation in the country was neither impartial nor thorough.

The Expert Committee 2, set up by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), the clearing house for all genetically modified crops in India, cleared Bt brinjal on October 14 (see ‘Green signal for Bt brinjal’,Down To Earth, November 1-15, 2009).
Bt brinjal is now awaiting the nod of the environment minister, Jairam Ramesh, after which it will become the first GM food crop to be sold in Indian markets.

The anti-GM coalition alleged the constitution of the expert committee and its terms of reference indicate it was set up to give a go-ahead to Bt brinjal.

 • All Mahyco’s men
What gave grounds for the allegation is the fact that over a period of time a third of the committee members have been in some way associated with either the seed company Mahyco that developed Bt brinjal or pro-Mahyco organizations (see: All Mahyco’s men). Selecting them for considering Mahyco’s application for commercialization of Bt brinjal raises the question of conflict of interest and violates the principle of fair inquiry, the coalition said.
Chairperson of the expert committee, Arjula R Reddy, said the committee was there to review the data submitted to GEAC. It had no power to decide on tests to be conducted for clearing Bt brinjal, he added.

A member of the committee, who did not want to be named, told Down To Earththat when the meeting was convened on October 14 the mandate was to clear the crop. He said a few members dominated the committee, while others had very little to say.

P M Bhargava, the Supreme Court nominee to GEAC, had also written to the environment minister on October 20, saying the expert panel was under pressure to clear Bt brinjal. Bhargava wrote that Reddy had made a confidential call a couple of weeks before the October 14 meeting to tell him that he agreed with his recommendation for eight tests on Bt brinjal that were not done. Reddy is quoted as saying that even the tests that were done may not have been satisfactory and adequate.

“He (Reddy) was under tremendous pressure to clear Bt brinjal and he had calls from the agriculture minister, GEAC and the industry,” wrote Bhargava, adding that Reddy perhaps succumbed to the pressure. Bhargava had disagreed with the expert committee’s decision.

When Down To Earth spoke to Reddy, who is also vice-chancellor of Yogi Vemana University in Andhra Pradesh, he said he was under tremendous pressure but not in the way Bhargava understood. “There was pressure because of the time that was being taken for reviewing the data. I had to collate all the analyses and that was taking time,” said Reddy.

Although he agreed Bhargava had recommended additional tests, Reddy reiterated that the Bt brinjal developer (Mahyco) had done all the tests recommended by the newly adopted guidelines for GM crops. “There can be innumerable tests but they should have been recommended by the Review Committee of Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) in all these years (since 2000),” said Reddy. RCGM is under the Department of Biotechnology and assesses applications for testing genetically modified crops before GEAC can consider their field trials.

Safety tests dodged 

The new guidelines referred to by Reddy were prepared by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in 2008 and adopted by RCGM early this year. The anti-GM group smells foul play in this. The minutes of the GEAC meeting on May 28 last year state, “ICMR was in agreement with the views expressed by Bhargava on (testing) chronic toxicity, especially in GM foods, which are to be used for long periods by human beings.” In the same meeting GEAC asked ICMR to reconsider Bhargava’s suggestion for DNA fingerprinting, study of proteins (Bt brinjal contains a gene from a bacterium that produces a toxic protein that kills pests), study of possible interaction of the Bt protein with commonly used drugs and its effects on reproductive health when amending the guidelines.

“These recommendations were not accepted. For someone to agree to Bhargava’s recommendations and then drop their inclusion (in the guidelines), there must be some strong reason,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, member of the Kheti Virasat Mission, part of the anti-GM coalition.

Even the earlier expert committee, which reviewed Bt brinjal before Expert Committee 2, had recommended independent studies of toxicity in laboratories accredited by the National Accredition Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories. The anti-GM coalition claims the studies have not been done.

The first expert committee also asked the National Institute of Nutrition in Hyderabad to suggest additional tests required for toxicity and allergenicity, and nutritional studies needed after examining the data presented by Mahyco.

A right to information application filed by the coalition showed that the nutrition institute’s director made comments based on only three studies by Mahyco: oral toxicity, acute oral toxicity and allergenicity studies. The director, however, noted that the laboratory that tested Mahyco’s brinjal did not authenticate whether the brinjal it received was genetically modified.

Tests like toxicological impact, biosafety and environmental safety should be done by independent laboratories; GEAC should not rely on the data submitted by the developer, said P C Kesavan, distinguished fellow at M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai. “This (clearance) is a hurried decision and it seems to be more commerce-driven than having a scientific base.”

Hurried decision 

The 16-member Expert Committee 2 was constituted on May 29 this year but it met only twice before clearing Bt brinjal for commercial cultivation. Of the 16 members 13 attended the first meeting and 12 attended the second.

Dhir Singh and S B Dongre, who represented the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, were present only in the second meeting and did not take part in the deliberations. So no questions regarding health were asked on behalf of the public. The two were from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. Kuruganti said the authority chairman told the anti-GM coalition that Singh and Dongre were present at the meeting only as observers.

Lalitha Gowda, scientist at the Central Food Technological Research Institute in Mysore, and C M Gupta, former director of the Central Drug Research Institute in Lucknow, did not attend either of the meetings.

Scientists are now suggesting the environment ministry organize public hearings with scientists and consumers in cities before taking a decision. They say genetic modification is not an immediate need; there are other methods like conventional breeding for tackling the pest problem. Ramesh has said he will decide after consulting scientists and civil society groups.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

बीटी बैगन के खिलाफ हस्ताक्षर अभियान

 पटना, जागरण ब्यूरो : बीटी बैगन के खिलाफ किसानों को जागरूक बनाकर व्यापक विरोध की तैयारी शुरू है। इसके खिलाफ हस्ताक्षर अभियान भी चलाया जा रहा है। इस सम्बन्ध में जीएम मुक्त बिहार अभियान संस्था के संयोजक पंकज भूषण ने मंगलवार को कृषि मंत्री रेणु कुमारी से मिलकर ज्ञापन समर्पित किया। ज्ञापन में कहा गया है कि बीटी बैगन से मनुष्य पर होने वाले असर की जानकारी प्राप्त किए बिना केन्द्र की विवादास्पद समिति ने अनुमति प्रदान कर दी है। राज्य हित में बीटी बैगन की खेती की बिहार में अनुमति नहीं देने का अनुरोध किया गया। इनके अनुसार इस पर रोक नहीं होने की स्थिति में हरित क्रांति का स्थान जीन क्रांति ले लेगी। इसका सीधा असर उपभोक्ताओं व किसानों पर पड़ेगा। संस्था के संयोजक के अनुसार केन्द्रीय पर्यावरण व वन मंत्रालय के अन्तर्गत गठित जेनेटिक इंजीनियरिंग एप्रूवल कमिटी द्वारा बीटी बैगन को भारत की प्रथम जेनिटिकली मोडीफायड खाद्य फसल के रूप में मंजूरी दी गयी है।

बीटी बैगन की खेती को अनुमति नहीं मिलने की संभावना


पटना,  बीटी बैगन के उत्पादन की बिहार में अनुमति नहीं मिलने की संभावना है। बीज उत्पादक कम्पनी महिको के दावे पर किसान आयोग ने संदेह व्यक्त किया है। आयोग के स्तर पर बुलायी गयी बैठक में कहा गया है कि बैगन की वर्तमान किस्म ही स्वास्थ्य व स्वाद, दोनों दृष्टिकोण से उपयोगी है। इसका उत्पादन भी पहले से ही काफी अधिक हो रहा है। गौरतलब है कि कृषि सम्बन्धित निर्णय से पूर्व, सरकार किसान आयोग का सुझाव प्राप्त करती है।
कृषि विभाग के प्रधान सचिव केसी साहा ने कहा कि मामला केन्द्र का है। राज्य सरकार इस पर विचार कर रही है। सम्प्रति कोई निर्णय नहीं हुआ है। वैज्ञानिकों के अनुसार, बीटी बैगन के बीज की कीमत 50 हजार रुपये प्रति किलो होने के कारण यह किसानों के लिए काफी महंगा भी पड़ता है। बीटी बैगन के मुद्दे पर कृषि आयोग द्वारा आयोजित बैठक में कृषि विभाग के अधिकारियों, वैज्ञानिकों व स्वयंसेवी संस्थाओं के प्रतिनिधियों ने अपने विचार व्यक्त किए। इसमें विशेषज्ञों ने सुझाव दिया कि राज्य सरकार को बीटी बैगन बीज के उपयोग की अनुमति नहीं देनी चाहिए। इसका उपयोग दस वर्षो के बाद ही होना चाहिए। वैज्ञानिकों के अनुसार बीटी बैगन की आड़ में कई फसलों के आनुवांशिक रूप से संवर्धित (जेनेटिकली माडिफाइड-जीएम) बीज बाजार में लाने की साजिश है। विश्व के मात्र 6 देशों में ही जीएम तकनीक को 99 प्रतिशत तक अपनाया गया है। विशेषज्ञों का मानना है कि भारत में विरोध के बावजूद चोरी छिपे बीटी बैगन की खेती हो रही है। इसको व्यावसायिक मंजूरी नहीं मिली है।
कृषि वैज्ञानिकों के अनुसार जीएम फसलों की संरचना सामान्य पौधों की कोशिकाओं में अलग किस्म का जीन जीवाणु, कीटाणु, मकड़ी, सूअर व कछुआ आदि से लिया जाता है। इसके कारण स्वास्थ्यव पर्यावरण पर प्रतिकूल प्रभाव पड़ता है। जीवित पौधा होने के कारण इसका पूरी तरह से नाश संभव नहीं है। कृषि विशेषज्ञों के अनुसार इसका पेटेंट बहुराष्ट्रीय कम्पनियों का होगा जिससे छोटे-छोटे किसानों को इन कम्पनियों पर निर्भर करना पड़ेगा। विकसित अनुवांशिक रूप से वर्धित महिको के बीटी बैगन का विकास हुए नौ साल हो गए हैं। महिको का दावा है कि इस बैगन में कीड़ों को समाप्त करने की क्षमता जीन क्राई 1 एसी है। कीड़ा लगने से 50 से 70 प्रतिशत बैगन की फसल बर्बाद हो जाती है। बीटी हाईब्रिड के प्रयोग से बैगन उत्पादन में 166 प्रतिशत की वृद्धि होगी। कम्पनी के अनुसार जेनेटिक इंजीनियरिंग एप्रूवल कमिटी ने इसको पर्यावरण के लिए सुरक्षित माना है।

Saturday, December 5, 2009

कंपनी और कृषि मंत्री के दबाव में की गयी बीटी बैंगन की सिफारिश

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देश में बीटी बैंगन की व्यापारिक खेती की अनुमति की सिफारिश करने वाले विशेषज्ञ कमेटी के फैसले की स्वतंत्रता व इमानदारी को लेकर विभिन्न संगठनों द्वारा उठाई जा रही शंकाओं को और भी बल मिला जब कमेटी के चेयरमैन ने यह स्वीकार किया कि उन्होने यह फैसला बीटी बैंगन निर्माता कंपनी के दबाव में लिया। यह खुलासा मशहूर जैव वैज्ञानिक पुष्प भार्गव ने किया है.
जानकारी के मुताबिक भारत में जीई तकनीक के पितामह डा पुष्पा भार्गव जिन्हें सुप्रीम कोर्ट द्वारा जीईएसी का सदस्य नियुक्त किया गया है, ने बताया कि 14 अक्तूबर 2009 को विशेषज्ञ समिति द्वारा बीटी बैंगन को मान्यता दिए जाने से कोई दो सप्ताह पूर्व विशेषज्ञ कमेटी के प्रमुख प्रो. अजुला रामचंद्र रेड्डी ने उन्होंने फोन पर बताया था कि बीटी बैंगन को मान्यता देने के लिए निर्माता कंपनी का दबाव तो था ही वहीं जीईएसी तथा कृषि मंत्री का भी फोन आया था। डा. भार्गव का कहना है कि बीटी बैंगन के सुरिक्षत होने की पुष्टि करने के लिए उनके द्वारा सुझाए गए जरूरी आठ तरह के टैस्ट भी नहीं किए गए हैं। डा भार्गव का कहना है कि बीटी बैंगन को लेकर जो टैस्ट किए गए है वह भी संतोषजनक नहीं हैं।
विशेषज्ञ समिति के एक अन्य सदस्य डा. के के त्रिपाठी जो बायोटैक्नालोजी विभाग की एक अहम रिव्यू कमेटी आफ जेनटिक मेनूप्लेशन के सदस्य सचिव हैं। केंद्रीय सतर्कता आयोग में हैदारबाद की एक बीज कंपनी नाजीविडू सीडस द्वारा एक शिकायत की गई जिसमें उन पर माहिको मोनसोंटो के पक्ष कार्य करते हुए अन्य कंपनियों से पक्षपात करने के आरोप लगाए गए हैं। डा. त्रिपाठी के खिलाफ शिकायत का अभी कोई निपटारा नहीं हुआ था कि और उन्हें विशेषज्ञ समिति में बिठा दिया गया. जिसके चलते उन्होंने माहीको के बीटी बैंगन के पक्ष में फैसला करने मे अहम भुमिका अदा की।
इसके अलावा विशेषज्ञ कमेटी में दो ऐसे सदस्य भी थे जो खुद बीटी बैंगन विकसित कर रहे हैं।इनमें से एक डा. मथुरा राय जो कि इंडियन इंस्टिच्यूट वैजीटेबल रिसर्च के निदेशक हैं। जिन्हें अमेरिका सरकार की फंड देने वाली ऐजंसी यूएस ऐड द्वारा माहीको के बीटी बैंगन को मानयता दिलाने के हेतु सभी औपचारिकताएं पूरी करने में सहायता प्रदान करने के लिए एक प्रोजेक्ट `एबीएसपी-2´ के माध्यम से धन दिया गया। ज्ञात हो कि यूएस ऐड को मोनसेंटो धन मुहैया करवाती है। डॉ राय ही माहीको के फील्ड ट्रायलों के मुख्य जांचकर्ता भी थे। यानि वो एक ही समय में एबीएसपी प्रोजेक्ट भी चला रहे थे, ट्रायलों की जांच भी कर रहे थे और फिर वहीं डा राय विशेषज्ञ कमेटी में भी शामिल होते हैं।
यह भी मामला उजागर हुआ है कि स्वास्थ्य मंत्रालय के प्रतिनिधि के तौर पर जो दो सदस्य डा.धीर सिंह व डा एसपी डोगरे कमेटी में थे उन्हें भी उनके आका का हुक्म था कि वो बैठकों में मौन रहें। खेती विरासत मिशन के कार्यकारी निदेशक उमेंद्र दत्त ने कहा है कि कमेटी द्वारा की गई सिफारिश को लेकर पहले से ही शंकाएं व्याक्त की जा रही थीं। कमेटी की सिफारिश मानवीय स्वास्थ्य व पर्यावरण को की दृष्टि से नहीं बल्कि कंपनी के व्यापार को मद्देनजर की गई है। उन्होंने कहा कि अब जब सिफारिश करने वालों की हकीकत सामने आ गई है ऐसे में सरकार को इस सिफारिश को रद्द कर देना चाहिए। श्री दत्त ने कहा कि बीटी फसलों के सामर्थन में खड़े सभी व्याक्ति व संगठन भी इस धोखाधड़ी समझें और इसका विरोध करें। श्री दत्त ने कहा कि सरकार ऐसी कमेटी को भंग करे और उसकी सभी सिफारिशों को भी नामंजूर कर भारतवासियों के स्वास्थ्य व पर्यावरण की सुरक्षा करें।
कोअलिशन फार जीएम फ्री इंडिया की महासचिव कविता कुरूगंटी ने बताया कि बीटी बैंगन को मानवीय स्वास्थ्य व पर्यावरण के लिए सुरक्षित बताने वानी कमेटी ने स्वतंत्र व इमानदार फैसले नहीं लिए हैं। उन्होने कहा कि हकीकत यह है इस कमेटी में निष्पक्ष मेंबर नहीं थे बल्कि कंपनियों के हमदर्द या बिचौलिए ही शामिल किए थे तो फैसले कंपनी के पक्ष में ही होने थे। बीटी फसलों के विरोध में जुटे संगठनों ने मांग की है कि वह सिफारिश तुरंत वापिस ली जाए।

Friday, December 4, 2009

Raw deal

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To eat or not to eat Bt brinjal, that's the question?
By Soni Mishra

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) took just an hour to pass a 102-page report giving the go-ahead to Bt brinjal. The report had been drafted in just two meetings, by an expert committee set up by the GEAC. These are two of several points raised by biologist P.M. Bhargava, a Supreme Court-appointed member of GEAC, raising serious doubts over the manner in which Bt brinjal was cleared for environmental release.
“The GEAC met on October 14 and passed the report within one hour. How is it possible to clear such a voluminous report in an hour? I feel it was all pre-planned. It is unfair, unethical and improper,” said Bhargava, the former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad. The only member of the committee to oppose the decision, Bhargava claimed that GEAC members were given very little time to go through the report. “I proposed that a month’s time should be given to us to analyse it, and people from Monsanto and the other stakeholders should be called to discuss it thoroughly,” he said. 
Bhargava claimed that the expert committee held only two meetings before coming up with the report. “How is that possible? This would lead one to conclude that the report was already prepared by someone else,” he said. He also said the report was a bad scientific document and would not pass muster in any scientific organisation anywhere in the world. The need for a foolproof and fair system for giving clearance to GM crops is being emphasised, especially since many more GM food crops are in the pipeline. According to sources in the environment ministry, as many as 56 GM crops, 41 of them food crops, are in different stages of trials. Bt brinjal, developed by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), the Indian partner of multinational seed company Monsanto, could be the first GM food crop to be introduced in India. It has been genetically modified to include the bacterial gene Bacillus thuringiensis—the same as in Bt cotton—that makes it pest-resistant.
Farmers’ rights activist Kavitha Kuruganti has questioned the clearance mechanism, saying the expert committee, its terms of reference and processes are all fraught with problems. “Two of the members of the expert committee were earlier involved in studies for Mahyco. So they were assessing their own findings, which is completely unfair,” she said.
Another contention is that the data for the report on Bt brinjal was provided by the company itself. “The biosafety tests that generated the data that was provided to the expert committee were conducted by the company,” said Kushal Pal Singh Yadav of the Centre for Science and Environment in Delhi. “This would obviously give rise to questions. The tests ought to have been conducted by an independent body.”
The government defends the clearance set-up. “The GEAC comprises 25 highly respected experts,” said Dr M.K. Bhan, secretary, department of biotechnology, ministry of science and technology. “They went through all data and conducted a detailed examination of the information at hand. If they were not satisfied with something, they asked the tests to be repeated. The GEAC cannot be expected to look at philosophical and political issues. It will only look into the scientific issue of whether there is any evidence that Bt brinjal poses any risks. We get the best people on the committee and we cannot subject them to mistrust and suspicion.” 
Using data from the company was the norm even in the field of pharmaceuticals, said Bhan. The clearance mechanism was so strict that many companies complain that it is easier for them to deal with the US Food and Drug Administration, he added.
Many believe that India is not prepared for GM crops as the country does not have strict provisions for labelling. “There is need for exercising caution while introducing Bt brinjal as it is an edible crop. At present, we do not have any labelling mechanism in place for GM food crops, so the consumer cannot make a choice,” said Yadav.

The expert committee found Bt brinjal safe for environmental release and human consumption; no additional studies or review are required, said the report. According to Mahyco, Bt brinjal would help millions of farmers who have been suffering crop damage caused by the pest brinjal fruit and shoot borer (BFSB). Bt brinjal has been in development for the last nine years. After a series of tests and trials, including 25 environmental biosafety studies, it was cleared by the GEAC, set up by the government. Those opposing Bt brinjal say it could do irreparable damage to health. Critics of GM food crops also cite the absence of a regulatory framework to protect consumer interests.
A study by French scientist Prof. G. Serilini of the University of Cannes has questioned the test results provided by Mahyco to the expert committee, saying the data is questionable with regard to toxicity. The study says it could lead to resistance to antibiotics. Former health minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, cautioning against the introduction of Bt brinjal, saying GM foods are known to cause various health effects like allergies and kidney and liver damage and can affect the immune system.
Experts want the government to pay heed to alternative methods of pest management without pesticides. “Very few countries have gone in for GM crops. Worldwide, only 2.5 per cent of the total arable land is being used to grow GM crops. More than 95 per cent of such crops are grown in the US, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. Instead of opting for GM crops, we should look at pesticide-free methods that have been developed in our country,” said Jai Krishna of Greenpeace.
According to Mahyco, Bt brinjal has been tested in full compliance with the guidelines and directives of the regulatory authorities to ensure its safety. “It is the most rigorously tested vegetable with 25 environmental biosafety studies supervised by independent and government agencies,” said Raju Barwale, managing director. Bt brinjal has the same nutritional value, he added, and is compositionally identical to non-Bt brinjal, except for the additional Bt protein that is specific in its action against the pest.
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, in the wake of the controversy over Bt brinjal, has decided to hold a public debate on the issue before a final decision is taken. “Strong views have already been expressed on the Bt brinjal issue, both for and against,” he said. “My objective is to arrive at a careful, considered decision in the public and national interest. The decision will be made only after the consultation process is complete and all stakeholders are satisfied that they have been heard to their satisfaction.”

Sunday, November 22, 2009

JNU’s Centre for Community Health Warns Against Bt Brinjal Hazards

Press Release

New Delhi, 20/11/2009: Responding to the introduction of Bt Brinjal in the country for public discussion by Jairam Ramesh, the Union Environment Minister, the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health (CSMCH), Jawaharlal Nehru University has sent a letter to the Union Minister saying, “We believe that there are serious issues of safety that are not yet addressed through long term studies. There is some data that these crops could be allergy- inducing, and indeed that they might be mutagenic. It is for these reasons that in the European Union but major countries have a restrictive regulatory regime. Countries in EU have a precautionary approach towards GM crops and major countries like Germany, France, Hungary, Greece etc has a ban on their cultivation.”

CSMCH took cognizance of the reports suggesting that the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has decided to approve the environmental release of Bt Brinjal from Monsanto/Mahyco in India which would for all purposes permit the use of transgenic and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and products for edible purposes.

The letter notes that CSMCH is seriously troubled with this move. The letter says, “ First of all, this is entirely unnecessary from a public health perspective, indeed undesirable. The argument that Bt brinjal would not require pesticides is dissembling. There are other, better, pest management methods like non pesticidal management that we need to utilize.”

It refers to “serious methodological flaws in the studies that have been carried out, not to mention ethical ones.”

It takes note of the “profound conflict of interest issues involved in the studies carried out in India. The companies that stand to gain by the introduction of these crops into the market were the sponsors of the studies. This is entirely unacceptable.”

The Prof Mohan Rao, Chairperson, CSMCH says, “There has not been adequate assessment of the ecological consequences of the introduction of this food crop. These concerns regarding the health and environmental risks associated with GM crops are too serious to be disregarded. Given our retailing structure, labeling is impossible in India and contamination is inevitable. Introduction of GM crops would kill the choice of the consumer."

The letter concludes saying that “this policy move is entirely unnecessary, has not been transparent and is potentially injurious to public health. We believe there should be a moratorium on such technologies till their safety both to human beings and the environment is proven.”

PublichealthWatch is a collective of public health researchers.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Four years of bitter harvest

Renitha RaveendranTags : amravati district, maharashtra, agriculturePosted: Friday , Nov 20, 2009 at 0011 hrsAmravati:

Since the seeds were first sown in their lands four years ago, farmers of Katpur village in Amravati district have been patiently waiting each season for wonders to happen. Nothing of the sort has happened yet. With huge debts taking the lives of many farmers in the district, and even cattle purportedly dying after feeding on the plants, the 5,000-odd farmers of this Maharashtra village have decided to shun the Bt cotton — once introduced to them by seed companies as “miracle” seeds. Most of them are now growing soyabean. Some have also taken to organic farming.
“We were cheated by the seed companies. We did not get the yield promised by them, not even half of it. And the expenditure involved was so high that we incurred huge debts. We have heard that the government is now planning commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal. But we do not want Bt seeds of any crop anymore,” says Sahebrao Yawliker, a farmer.

Bengal puts Bt Brinjal on the backburner

Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay Posted online: Friday , Nov 20, 2009 at 0314 hrs
Kolkata : Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has virtually said no to the commercial production of Bt Brinjal in the state.
In a letter to Union Minister for Forests and Environment Jairam Ramesh, the chief minister spelt out the problems in growing GM brinjal and said that he would consult some of the members of the state’s erstwhile agriculture commission on this matter.
Earlier, in a letter to Bhattacharjee on November 10, Ramesh had sought to know the stand of the state government on the issue.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee of the Centre has approved the commercial production of Bt Brinjal.
The CPM’s farmers’ wing, Krishak Sabha, has already objected to the proposal.
“There are clear reasons to be concerned about commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal. One of the worries is about ‘gene pills’ or the contamination of the land races by the engineered variety. This means that it has potential to threaten bio-diversity, destabilise important ecosystems, and limit the future agricultural possibilities in a region,” the chief minister said in his letter.
The chief minister also raised questions on the impact of GM crops on human health. “There remain vital questions of the impact of GM crops on human health, particularly when genetic engineering introduces the possibilities of physiologic or bio-chemical effects on target varieties. The current generations of available crops also raises concerns linked to pesticide use as BT crops are designed to internally create their own pesticides. While in the short run one may expect some decrease in use of pesticides, in the long run it may not be very effective,” Bhattacharjee said.
He also said that in developed countries people have a choice between GM food and non-GM food. “In the markets of those countries, the GM food is kept aside and people have a choice of not buying them. But in our retail markets people will be left with no choice,” the chief minister said.
Bhattacharjee also raised concerns about the economics of using GM crops in developing countries. “The commercial producers of Bt Brinjal seeds claim that poor farmers will benefit from cultivation of that crop through higher productivity, but in reality it may not be so in the long run. The farmers may not only become dependent on the monopoly supplier for the seeds but also for other inputs as 98 per cent of the world GM seed market is controlled only by a few companies,” the chief minister added.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why the US is so keen to sell Bt brinjal to India

November 19, 2009 12:38 IST
The conversion of Indian farmers from traditional varieties and public hybrids to commercial hybrids and GM seeds could create a market larger than China, notes Bhavdeep Kang

A fortnight ago, the Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] headquarters in Delhi [ Images ] received a visit from a representative of a US-based multinational seed subsidiary. His mission: To convince party opinion-makers that Bt brinjal was as swadeshi as baingan ka bharta and should therefore receive their endorsement.
That American agri-companies have intensified lobbying with Indian political parties is not surprising, for two reasons. First, the Indian government has yet to greenlight the commercialisation of Bt brinjal -- crucial for the future of these 'Bt brand' companies -- even after a thumbs up from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC).
Also, the winter session of Parliament is to take up two crucial pieces of legislation: The Seed Bill and the National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill. Both will profoundly impact the agri-business environment in India [ Images ] for agri-MNCs, by facilitating market access.
Small wonder US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ] made it a point to visit the Indian Agricultural Research Institute in July and reiterate her country's commitment to bringing about policy changes in the Indian farm sector that US agri-business would like to see.
Clinton said she favoured a strong intellectual property or patent regime (IPR) to safeguard the ownership of agricultural research, as that would be in 'everyone's interest'. A contention rejected by Indian agri-policy analysts who say it would primarily benefit owners of biotechnology research -- the MNCs who produce 'Bt' seeds, as genetically modified or GM crops have come to be popularly known (patents would ensure that no one else would be allowed to produce or sell these seeds).
Her technology advisor, Nina Federoff, is a strong votary of genetically modified crops, to the extent of being regarded as a spokesperson for US seed multinationals like Monsanto, Dow and DuPont.
In fact, Federoff triumphantly pointed out to a group of US agri-scientists last year that although Europe and Japan [ Images ] were cautious about GM foods, Africa and India were clamouring for them!
The MNCs have the advantage of an unabashedly pro-GM Minister for Agriculture in Sharad Pawar [ Images ]. However, the Bt ball is currently in the court of Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh [ Images ], who is under pressure from the public and the scientific community to delay unleashing the Bt blitzkrieg until a consumer protection regime is in place.
The BJP is divided on the issue and its opposition could delay the passage or alter the shape of the pending Bills. The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, its mentor, has made no secret of its strong opposition to GM crops.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] provided the US-based agri-giants with a readymade vehicle for lobbying with Indian policy-makers during his first term in 2006, when he approved the Indo-US Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture.
It was announced with much fanfare during his visit to the USA and evoked a storm of protest at home, mainly from the Left parties and farmers' bodies.
The AKI, as it is known, boasts MNCs (Monsanto, Walmart, Archer Daniels Midland) as official US representatives on its panel. They have set the agenda for the AKI, with development of transgenic strains of rice and wheat forming a major part of the initiative.
Three-quarters of the Rs 400 crore (Rs 4 billion) commitment by India is earmarked for biotechnology products (the US commitment of $8 million for the year 2006 didn't materialise, prompting Pawar to write to the prime minister, seeking his intervention).
A subsequent attempt was made by the US to alter the focus of the AKI from research to policy issues but was scuttled by the Indian bureaucracy.
The AKI was touted as the next logical step in the '50 years of Indo-US cooperation on agriculture' which started with the Green Revolution that opened the doors to US agro-chemical and seed companies. It is part of the much-hyped 'Second Green Revolution', touted by the PM and his agriculture minister as the answer to India's food security concerns.
The fact that this 'revolution' will be based on bio-technology products owned by private corporations had disturbed Indian farmers' bodies, who have described it as a joint US-India effort to promote the interests of bio-technology-driven MNCs.
The AKI worries Indian agri-policy experts because it gives the MNCs access to India's gene-banks, fuelling fears of bio-piracy. Even more, it also gives them an 'in' to India's enormous agricultural research infrastructure, while the ownership of the collaborative research is not yet clear.
Since they have a clear edge in terms of bio-technology research and are pumping out patented Bt seeds, the MNCs want an IPR regime which would give them a hold on the Indian seed market.
The US already has a significant presence in India's agricultural and food sectors, accounting for more than half of the $1 billion organised seed market. Of course, four-fifths of India's farmers do not purchase seeds. They still follow the traditional system of save, exchange and barter. It is this section that the MNCs would like to target.
The conversion of Indian farmers from traditional varieties and public hybrids to commercial hybrids and GM seeds could create a market larger than China. The Seed Bill, 2004, and the National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority Bill are the thin end of the wedge.
The NBRA Bill, if it becomes an Act, would demolish a raft of existing bio-safety regulations, which would enable easier access to the Indian markets.
The Seed Bill has been criticised for diluting many provisions of the existing Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act, PPVFR, which safeguards the right of Indian farmers to freely save, exchange and barter seeds.
Bhavdeep Kang

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Scientist issues warning on introduction of GM crops

PTI Tuesday, November 17, 2009 14:59 IST
Thiruvananthapuram: A senior Agriculture Scientist has cautioned the Centre on introduction of GM crops in the country observing that Indian agriculture was 'so diverse and biodiversity very vast.'

'One has to take into consideration all crucial facts before one jumps onto the GM bandwagon", Food and Agriculture Organisation Consultant K P Prabhakaran Nair said while presenting a paper at a national seminar on 'GM crops and Food Security' here today.
On Biotechnology regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee clearing Bt brinjal - country's first genetically modified (GM) food- for commercial use, he said the move evoked mixed reaction from scientists, stake holders and civil society. The verdict was against GM crops, he said.
India faced a similar situation in the early sixties when the 'miracle' wheat seeds were introduced in the country.
It was true that the nation harvested large amounts of food grains but paid a heavy environmental toll in terms of degraded soils, dried aquifiers, polluted groundwater and vanished bio diversity, Nair said.
Industrial agriculture, with high input technology, also did not go well with India's ethos and the country was now seeking a different path based on sustainable agriculture. It was at this time that GM crops have made their appearance, he said.
Indian Biodiversity Forum Chairman S Faizi said genetically modified organisms contain inherent risks to biodiversity and human health. The Seminar was jointly organised by Kerala Biotechnology Commission and Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment

Monday, November 16, 2009

GM Foods opponents castigated remarks by the Union Agriculture Minister of State

Patna,16.11.09. GM Foods opponents here today castigated remarks by the Union Agriculture Minister of State that the country cannot afford to stop the use of genetically modified technology, saying it was “premature” and “unscientific” on the part of a Central Minister to issue such statements.
Minister of State for Agriculture K. V. Thomas had said in New Delhi that India cannot oppose the use of the genetically modified technology as it wants to increase crop yields and manage the present agriculture crisis.
 However, the GM-Free Bihar Abhiyaan, which is spreading awareness in Bihar on the disadvantages of GM Foods, said the central minister’s statement was premature and without any scientific basis.
“The minister should have refrained from such statements when a nation-wide debate is going on genetically modified foods, particularly on the aspects of biosafety, environment and consumer choice,” it said, adding, “There are environmental and economic concerns about the GM technology.”
GM-Free Bihar Abhiyaan Convenor Pankaj Bhushan said there are health concerns also being expressed. The World Health Organization has noted that while theoretical discussions have covered a lot of ground, three key concerns were debated - the GM crops' tendencies to provoke allergic reactions, transfer gene to the intestinal bacteria, and the movement of transfer of genes to conventional crops or related species in the wild.
Even scientists, who support genetic engineering in general, are concerned about a world in which a lot of toxin-carrying genes move around. It could pose not only health risk, but also increase resistance among pests.
When it was introduced in India, Bt cotton was promoted as a wonder product that would save farmers caught in pesticide resistance, low yields and spiralling debts. But in several places that was not the case.
Bhushan said even the approval of Bt Brinjal by Centre’s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has drawn a lot of ire.
Even the Muzaffarpur MP Capt. Jai Narayan Nishad, who had been Union Environment and Forests Minister, has written to Bihar CM and the Centre on the issue.

Friday, November 13, 2009

India can't oppose GM tech amid current farm crisis


New Delhi, Nov 13 (PTI) The government today said India cannot oppose the use of the genetically modified technology as it wants to increase crop yields.
"The GM technology cannot be avoided," Minister of State for Agriculture K V Thomas said, adding India cannot oppose the use of technology if it wants to increase yields and manage the present agricultural crisis.
The crop shortage of key foodgrains had led to a rise in prices of some food commodities such as sugar and tur dal this year. In Kerala, tur dal is costing Rs 90-100 a kg and sugar has touched Rs 35 a kg this year, he shared.
The minister noted: "The country need to take scientific and practical steps to improve productivity and bring down cost of production. The GM technology is one way to achieve this.

GM CROPS Where is the science?

The debate in GM plants is deeply suffused by vested interests. In addition to impeding research, companies also exert their influence on review and approval, writes Sujatha Byravan.

Genetically Modified (GM) crops are in the limelight again as the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) in India recently permitted commercial cultivation of Bt-brinjal. This brinjal contains the pesticide gene from Bacillus Thuringiensis and has been developed by Mahyco Monsanto Biotech, a joint-venture between Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company and the US seed colossus Monsanto. GEAC is supposedly India's highest regulatory body for genetically engineered plants, but its very name proclaims its charge - to give approval to genetically engineered substances, as opposed to being a disinterested regulatory body.
Given all the confusion regarding GM crops let us recapture a few lessons we have learnt and know for sure in the area of food security and agriculture. Biodiversity is critical to sustainable, healthy agricultural ecosystems; a farmer's ability to control agricultural productivity through ownership of seeds, access to markets and reasonably secure livelihoods is important; and to ensure food security, storage, distribution and purchasing power have to be part of the picture. For instance, India imported lentils recently to tide over its needs. Some agricultural experts suggest that improved storage methods would have made these imports unnecessary.
In essence, we need a systems approach to agriculture and food security instead of viewing them as requiring mere technical fixes. Thus while various technologies and innovations - such as better rural credit systems, improved methods to capture and store rainwater, and development of implements to enable women to work more easily in the fields - will remain crucial to agriculture, these developments must support the critical elements.
Science vs. anti-science?

What has been of particular interest in this and past debates on the subject is the way in which those who oppose GM crops are painted as being against science (see for instance, the editorial in The Hindu on 21 October, 2009 or Starved for Science by R Paarlberg). There is a blatant attempt by GM promoters to polarise the discussion and manufacture a science-vs.-antiscience debate. All those who oppose GM crops are neither anti-science nor luddites. Indeed, many scientists have been, and still are, critical of GM for a number of good reasons. Scientists and scientific academies, including the National Research Council of the US National Academy of Sciences, have expressed serious concerns regarding the scientific rigour of experiments and the impacts of GM crops, especially on biodiversity.
Those who support GM crops generally believe that science and technology can solve most problems, and see crops as requiring tinkering to improve agriculture. It is such short-term and piecemeal thinking that led to the excesses of the Green Revolution causing damage to soils, depletion of ground water and other harms to ecosystems. There are other supporters of GM who continue to believe that private production of goods and services is inherently superior to public ones, even as governments have been bailing out the private sector in the last year! And then there are those who have financial gains to make if the GM industry prospers.
Let me compare the GM debate with the other major scientific debate - global warming. While scientists who work on climate change and global warming rightly embrace the precautionary principle, many who work in the area of GM plant technologies abandon it altogether. A charitable explanation is that this may have to do with differing perceptions of risk in each case. Perhaps global warming is seen as a serious threat to the entire world, and GM crops may not be understood in the same way. Moreover, some benefits have been attributed to these crops by promoters, making it harder for people to reject them.
But while the naysayers of climate change have now been marginalised through more research and data, those who are concerned about GM crops have been silenced through smear campaigns launched against them. Some of the scientists, like Arpad Pusztai, who raised questions regarding the health effects of GM crops, have had their careers turned upside down. In order to learn about the tentacles and might of agribusiness, one must ask Ignacio Chapela from UC Berkeley about his gut-wrenching tenure battle, which followed his publication in Nature on the contamination of wild strains of Mexican maize by GM maize
The mere use of technology does not make an approach scientific, but this is a common fallacy even among scientists. Good science is characterised by transparency and falsifiability. These do not figure in GM. Instead, faith, the antithesis of science, features in a big way. There are few peer-reviewed journal articles on GM crops. When companies make claims about various positive contributions from their engineered crops, their statements cannot be verified or tested independently. Policymakers and even other scientists who work in the same area have to accept the results on faith.
Earlier this year, an anonymous public statement was signed and submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 26 leading scientists, entomologists who work with insects that infect corn. It stated that scientists are unable to conduct independent research on GM crops as patents prevent full access to research materials and the ability to grow and study these plants. As a consequence, the scientists state, the data that the Scientific Advisory Panel of the EPA has available to it is unduly limited. This means the claims of GM proponents cannot be verified independently or indeed be falsified.

GEAC is supposedly India's highest regulatory body for genetically engineered plants, but its very name proclaims its charge - to give approval to genetically engineered substances, as opposed to being a disinterested regulatory body.

There is general agreement among scientists and academics on the adverse effects on biodiversity as a result of cross-pollination from engineered to non-engineered crops. Still, field trials for GM crops in unmarked areas blow caution and engineered pollen to the winds in closely cultivated fields in India.
The potential damage to human health from GM crops has been shown quite clearly in a few animal systems, but perhaps needs further study. There is good peer-reviewed published evidence to show that Bt toxins are both immunogens (a substance that provokes an immune response) and immunoadjuvants (a substance that enhances immune response) for mammals. Moreover, studies have shown that Bt toxins bind to the mammalian small intestine and have effects on its proper functioning. The concerns raised by the use of viral promoters, which are hotspots for genetic recombination, the use of antibiotic resistance genes, and strong gene promoters (sequences that facilitate the transcription of a gene) to ensure that the foreign genes are expressed, have already been highlighted by many scientists.
The science behind genetic engineering of plants is itself outdated as it continues to view a gene as a single self-contained unit of DNA sequence that transfers information linearly to RNA (ribonucleic acid) and then to proteins. It has now become clear that this picture of gene expression is simplistic and incorrect. There is a complex array of interacting factors that influence gene expression. For instance, even sequences of DNA located at a distance from the gene in question can be involved in regulating it as can other cellular and environmental factors. Further, RNA and protein play a far more important role in gene expression than previously believed.
What this implies is that simply introducing a DNA sequence into a plant and expecting a complex trait to be successfully transferred is not justified. This explains why even after decades of experimentation with numerous traits, only a couple of characteristics (the pesticide gene and herbicide tolerance) have been transferred to plants and that too, many would argue, unsuccessfully.
By any means necessary
The truth is that agribusiness has been doing its best to gain control of food security for profit using many different tactics and it is supported from various quarters. While political coercion and economic pressure have been working to open some European markets to a few GM crops, the vast majority of the people and most of the countries in Europe remain doubtful about GM foods. In case of large-scale industrial farms (which receive generous subsidies from public coffers) in the US, GM crops seem to make farms easier to manage.
The conversion of farmers to using engineered crops in other parts of the world may work for a few seasons, but most of them find that pests grow resistant to the Bt gene compelling the application of more chemicals. This is reported to already be happening in the case of Bt cotton in India. The companies are beginning to respond to the problem by inserting more Bt and other pest-resistant genes.
The debate in GM plants is even more deeply suffused by vested interests than that on global warming. In addition to impeding research, companies also exert their influence on review and approval by way of revolving doors between agribusiness and regulators. Furthermore, outright threats came to light in the UK in 2003 when the government decided to hold panels to review GM foods. According to The Guardian"Dr Andrew Stirling, of Sussex University and a member of the Government's GM science review panel, was warned by a leading member of the scientific establishment his career would be ruined unless he stopped questioning the technology's safety. The pro-GM scientist tried to get Stirling removed from a research project by approaching its funders."
Another leading academic reported that he resigned from the science review after fearing that his funding might be withdrawn. "Professor Carlo Leifert, of the University of Newcastle, also felt it was improper that an employee of GM giant Monsanto had been allowed to draft a key chapter on the safety of GM foods for the science review." Individuals from biotechnology companies often occupy key decision-making positions in regulatory agencies. In India conflicts of interest and straightforward charges of corruption have been made in the appointment of GEAC members.
The battle lines are drawn, but not as visibly as they have been in the case of global warming. Developing countries such as India with its large population and huge potential for markets are very attractive to agribusiness. In India where the vast majority of the people still depend on agriculture for their livelihood, and where diverse ecoystems and crop varieties still thrive, control over food security needs to be a top priority that is not be handed over to anyone: corporations, governments or even civil society for that matter.
The state of Orissa has come out and taken a stand against GM crops. Orissa has over 100 varieties of local brinjal and those may be affected by GM contamination. India might be where the fight for control over food security between corporations and farmers now lies.
Although it seems important to demonstrate that the science and alleged benefits of GM crops are untrue we shouldn't have to invest a whole lot of money to show that GM crops don't cause harm. There is enough evidence to show that they do not increase yield consistently, that they are a serious threat to biodiversity, increase the use of chemicals over time and do not benefit consumers or small farm holdings.
Would we invest a lot of effort to counter claims by oil companies such as Exxon who have poured money into research to show that global warming is not taking place? We have enough work to do mitigating and adapting to climate change. Similarly, we need to focus on the challenge at hand-food security in an uncertain future. And we can do that without GM plants by using proven agricultural practices and other innovations that improve food security. 

BT brinjal clearance ignored dissenters?

Nitin Sethi, TNN 11 November 2009, 02:54am IST

NEW DELHI: In what is bound to raise the bar for the government to clear GM brinjal, the Supreme Court appointed observer on the GEAC has written to the environment ministry that his and two other members' dissenting voice was ignored while giving a hasty recommendation for the environmental release of the BT brinjal. 
Pushpa M Bhargava, appointed to the GEAC by the apex court after a case in which the clearance process was challenged, has warned that enormous scientific literature was ignored in a haste to clear the first genetically modified food crop in India.The former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology has pointed out that the 102-page report thick with scientific information was cleared without giving adequate time for its scrutiny. He warns that the committee's report has enormous scientific and technical errors and is inconsistent in parts. 
The final report of the GEAC did not contain any dissenting report. It instead read like a unanimous view of all the members of the committee. Bhargava has said that he was in no doubt that the clearance of BT brinjal was pre-planned and the committee was an eye-wash. 
Bhargava had suggested the postponement of the meeting for a month and suggested a one- or two-day meeting where other experts would also be called for the review. This suggestion, Bhargava said, was ignored in the haste for granting a clean chit to the proposal. He has warned in his missive to the ministry that allowing the release of BT brinjal would be a major national disaster and would open up a Pandora's box. Elsewhere, Bhargava has pointed out that besides him, two other scientists on board had communicated their strong reservations but were ignored. He pointed out that Ramesh Sonti of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, who is a Bhatnagar Prize winner and member of GEAC, was of the opinion that there were fundamental flaws in the technology being cleared. Bhargava had earlier raised objections to the fact that all crucial and necessary tests had not been carried out. Those that were carried out were either done by the company or in the case where the tests were carried out by accredited labs, the company provided selected samples. 
He had also pointed out that GM crops were banned in most parts of the world and were predominant only in the US, CanadaArgentina and Brazil.