Experts want ban on Bt brinjal revoked

Bangalore, May 6, DHNS:

Its planned introduction in India was put on hold by Ministry of Environment last year following long-term safety concerns of genetically modified food on human health.    

Amid a raging debate sparked by commercialisation of Bt brinjal, experts here argued that biotech crops is the way forward to address food shortage and nutritional security in the country. They were speaking at the event ‘Bangalore India Bio’ in the City. China, Brazil, Argentina have emerged as early adopters of Bt crops maximising their yields. Pakistan, Mynmar and Sweden have joined the Bt crop roster last year. “Bt crops can be relevant in the wake of stagnating agricultural productivity in India,” said IISC professor of biochemistry G Padmanaban.

The resistance to bt crops is primarily triggered by health concerns, biodiversity and regulatory issues related to the scientific validity studies conducted. “We are not able to replicate the success of bt cotton in other crops as farmers are denied access to technology due to excess regulation,” said Bharat Krishak Samaj chairman Ajay Jakhar.

Though India’s has seen a quantum jump in cotton yield due to the adoption of bt cotton, the country’s first biotech vegetable crop is still under scanner for the last ten years. An indefinite ban was placed on the commercialisation of brinjal in February 2010. Padmanaban said the seeds should at least be released to an identified group of farmers for field validation. “I don’t say that you should overlook or bypass safety parameters. But we should not be shying away from bt crops,” he added.

For instance, China is already conducting field trials for bt rice and within 2-3 years they will start marketing it. “We are still debating about the technology, while they are ahead of us,” he added.

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