Decision on Bt. Brinjal not influenced by NGOs: Jairam

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Saturday said the decision to ban the commercial use of Bt. Brinjal has not been influenced by NGOs and added use of bio-technology for the crop to be consumed by humans needed to be carefully evaluated first.

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Speaking to reporters on a visit here, Ramesh said his decision was based on wider consultations with stakeholders.

"No NGO influenced my decision," Ramesh told reporters. The decision to put on hold the commercial release of the Bt. Brinjal was taken in February 2010.

The remarks by the minister assume significance in the wake of  Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s interview to a science journal in which he had referred to the opposition of NGOs to genetic engineering technology and associated research in the country.

Ramesh told reporters that the decision to put a moratorium on the commercial release of Bt. Brinjal was taken after seven months of consultations with the public, various stakeholders including the states, farmers and NGOs. He said he had written about the issue to the chief ministers of all states.

The minister said that there was no scientific consensus on Bt. Brinjal and the full protocol on the test has not been completed.

The prime minister said in hhis interview that the country must make use of genetic engineering technology to increase agricultural productivity. He said that NGOs funded by the US and Scandinavian countries were not fully appreciative of the developing challenges that the country faces.

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