India puts moratorium on Bt brinjal
India puts moratorium on Bt-Brinjal
India Blooms News Service, 9 Feb 2010
New Delhi, Feb 9 (IBNS) Faced with huge outcry of scientists, greens and farmers, India on Tuesday put a moratorium on release of the genetically modified Bt-Brinjal after several public consultations by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh across the country.
Ramesh told an eagerly awaited press conference here that after studying long term impact of the GM crop only a decision can be taken.
“It has been a difficult decision to take. I had to balance science and society, producer and consumer, centre and state,” Jairam Ramesh said.
“As a responsible minister I had to take a considered decision. It is responsible to science, it is responsive to society,” he said.
“There is no overriding urgency to introduce Bt-Brinjal,” he added.
In a statement he said: “It is my duty to adopt a cautious precautionary principle based approach and impose 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 the point of view of its long term impact on human health and environment, including the rich genetic wealth existing in brinjal in our country.”
He said: “A moratorium implies rejection of this particular case of release for the time being; it does not , in any way, mean conditional acceptance. This should be understood.”
He said the move should not be construed as discouraging ongoing R&D in using tools of modern biotechnology.
Earlier during volatile public consultations, Ramesh had said that he was trying to take a middle path on the controversial issue.
"I am not an extremist. I am trying to take a middle path," he told reporters in Bangalore after the heated exchange at the public consultation last week.
He had lost his cool in Bangalore consultation when he was accused of being an agent of Monsanto, the US company with the Bt-Brinjal technology.
He said he had sleepless nights on the issue for months and aged.
Amidst much controversy and protests, the genetically modified Bt brinjal was cleared by a government panel for commercial cultivation in October last.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), country's bio-technology regulator, has approved the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) Bt brinjal. If approved by the government, it will become the first GM food crop in India.
Anti-Bt-Brinjal groups argue that its cultivation will affect the small farmers and harm humans.