Experts have supported genetically modified brinjal: India's Env Minister
News Nov 24, 2009
The genetically modified Bt Brinjal has been developed in compliance with international norms and experts evaluating it have found no danger in it, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here Tuesday.
Supporting the experts’ panel — which has been criticised by many independent scientists and green activists, the minister told the Rajya Sabha in reply to a question: “Bt Brinjal event EE-1 has been developed in compliance with the prevailing regulatory procedures and biosafety guidelines which conform to the international norms”.
Ramesh informed the parliament’s upper house: “The environmental safety studies have been carried out on pollen escape out-crossing, aggressiveness and weediness, effect of the gene on non-target organisms, presence of the protein in soil and its effect on soil microflora, confirmation of the absence of terminator gene and baseline susceptibility studies.”
“The food and feed safety assessment studies carried out include composition analysis, allergenicity and toxicological studies, and feeding studies on fish, chicken, cows and buffaloes,” he added.
The Indian branch of international NGO Greenpeace has been spearheading the opposition to introduction of Bt Brinjal in India, pointing out that the European Union had banned genetically modified crops.
The minister, however, said: “The cumulative results of more than 50 field trials conducted to assess the safety, efficacy and agronomic performance of Bt Brinjal demonstrates that Cry1Ac protein in Bt Brinjal provides effective protection from the Fruit and Shoot Borer, a major pest in brinjal crop; resulting in enhanced economic benefits to the farmers and traders accrued from higher marketable yield and lower usage of pesticide sprays.”
After the approval by the experts’ panel, it is now up to the environment ministry to approve or reject the introduction of the genetically modified crop in India. Ramesh has said the ministry will take a decision after holding a number of public hearings in January and February.