Decision on Bt. Brinjal not influenced by NGOs: Jairam (Second Lead)

February 26th, 2012 - 1:04 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Kochi, Feb 25 (IANS) In the wake of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh questioning the role of foreign-aided NGOs in opposing use of genetic engineering, union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Saturday stressed that the decision to stay commercial use of Bt. Brinjal was not influenced by any NGO.

Answering queries from media persons on his visit here, Ramesh said his decision on Bt Brinjal was based on wide consultations with stakeholders, adding that the use of bio-technology for the crop to be consumed by humans needed to be carefully evaluated.

“No NGO influenced my decision,” said Ramesh, who had decided to put on hold the commercial release of the Bt. Brinjal in February 2010 when he was union environment minister.

Ramesh’s remarks assume significance in the wake of prime minister’s interview to a science journal saying that India must make use of genetic engineering technology to increase agricultural productivity, and NGOs funded by the US and Scandinavian countries were not fully appreciative of the country’s development challenges.

Ramesh said 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 on the issue to the chief ministers of all states.

Bio-technology in agriculture was not merely a scientific issue but “political issue” as it affects human safety, he said.

Referring to his decision on Bt Brinjal, Ramesh said Greenpeace had accused him of propagating the line of genetic engineering firm Monsanto during a public hearing in Bangalore.

“So on Bt Brinjal, since I was directly involved, I can confidently say no NGOs influenced my views,” he said.

The minister said that there was no scientific consensus on Bt. Brinjal, the full protocol on the test has not been completed and there was no independent professional mechanism to instil confidence in the public.

“I did not ban Bt Brinjal. I decided lets put moratorium (on it),” Ramesh said and added he could not have ignored opinion of chief ministers who opposed it.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who supports Bt Cotton, did not support the move on Bt Brinjal, he noted.

“I cannot ignore states. Ultimately in agriculture, we have to take states along with us,” he said.

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