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PMK fires salvo against Bt Brinjal


Chennai : Founder of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) S. Ramadoss has fired the first salvo against farming Bt Brinjal, for which the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) gave its nod for commercial cultivation last week.

“Only three months ago, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had said that there is no need for GM vegetables. But now an organisation under his ministry has accorded sanction for commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in a hurry,” Ramadoss said here in a statement.

Citing the controversies arising out of the GEAC’s sanction and the procedure adopted by it, Ramadoss said the dissenting views of some members of the GEAC have not been taken into account.

He demanded the release of the permission for a public discussion.

Questioning the need for GM vegetables when the European Union has banned these, he alleged that such vegetables are being thrust upon the country under the US aid. This in the long run would make Indian farming a monopoly market for private seed companies, he added.

Ramesh said Thursday that a series of consultations would be made before taking any decision on the release of Bt Brinjal in India.

The minister’s statement came a day after the government’s biotech regulator approved the commercialisation of the genetically modified crop, leading to protests by environmental and farmers’ groups.

Bt Brinjal is a transgenic brinjal created out of inserting a gene (Cry 1Ac) from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into brinjal. This is said to give the brinjal plant resistance against insects like the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (Leucinodes orbonalis) and Fruit Borer (Helicoverpa armigera).