Bt brinjal meet turns stormy

Differences crop up among farmingcommunity

Bt brinjal meet turns stormy

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh asks activists protesting against Bt Brinjal to maintain silence during a consultation over the issue in Ahmedabad on Tuesday. PTI

The public consultation, chaired by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, was attended by farmers from across Gujarat and some districts of Rajasthan, agriculture scientists, environmental activists and academicians.

Certain farmers, who had a good experience with Bt cotton spoke in favour of bt-brinjal contending that like bt-cotton, bt-brinjal will also give good yield and in turn generate more income.

The agricultural scientists from different parts of the state also held divergent opinions as some spoke for introduction of Bt brinjal while some opposed it saying the tests done so far were not enough.

Environmental activists came out with statistics of countries which have opposed GM food crop and raised questions like whose need it was to introduce Bt brinjal, was it the farmers’ or the company which had made the GM seed.

The consultation also saw a veteran farmer asking Ramesh if his government had right to impose Bt brinjal on people of the country.

Manubhai Gandhi from Bhavnagar said introducing Bt brinjal would be “violation” of people’s rights under Section 14, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India.

Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat Vidhyapith Sudarshan Iyengar asked for moratorium on introduction of Bt brinjal for 5-7 years during which tests should be conducted to resolve doubts raised by various experts on GM food crops. Agriculture scientist K B Kathiriya from the Anand Agriculture University said they have conducted field trial of Bt brinjal and found there was considerable increase in the yield. However, molecular biologist Dr Jayesh Seth said consuming Bt brinjal would be like giving a small dose of radiation which could increase susceptibility to cancer.

One farmer from Panchmahal said with Bt cotton, his income has increased and his economic condition has improved. He said that bt-brinjal will also bring the same results.
Shabhulal Rawal from Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, agreed with his counterpart from Panchmahal saying that Bt cotton has been beneficial and so will be Bt brinjal. Many farmers like Bhikabhai Patel from Banskantha, Veljibhai from Kutch, Kantilal from Dungarpur, Rajasthan, said they have been cultivating Bt cotton since 5-7 years and the yield has consistently come down every year almost at the rate of 20 per cent.

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