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.”