Parliamentary panel seeks probe into Bt Brinjal (Lead)

August 9th, 2012 - 7:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) A parliamentary panel Thursday recommended a probe into the issue of Bt Brinjal, saying that adequate tests had not been carried out and the approval committee was under “tremendous pressure” from the “industry and a minister” to approve it.

According to Basudeb Acharia, who heads the parliamentary standing committee on agriculture, “the issue needs to be probed as the co-chairman of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) Arjula Reddy was under tremendous pressure as he was getting calls from the industry, GEAC and a minister to approve Bt Brinjal”.

Acharia said the probe should be cover the period right from the beginning to the imposing of a moratorium on Bt Brinjal’s commercialisation by the government in February 2010.

“We are convinced that these developments are not merely slippages due to oversight or human error but indicative of collusion of a worst kind,” Acharia told reporters.

A moratorium was imposed on Bt Brinjal by then environment minister Jairam Ramesh in February 2010 following protests by NGOs and environmentalists.

Bt Brinjal was being pushed in India by the US multinational Monsanto.

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had criticised the move by Ramesh, saying in the long run, Bt Brinjal will only prove to be an advantage for India.

Without naming the minister concerned, Acharia said the committee has been highly disconcerted to know about the confession of the co-chairman of the GEAC.

According to him, genetically modified crops should not be pursued in India as most of the farmers are small and marginal ones and their interest has to be protected.

He countered the pro-GM crop lobbies in the country by saying that the targets to meet the concerns over food security can be easily met without the GM technology and organic farming should be pursued to achieve these goals.

Acharia also said that the issue of GM crops should be debated in parliament.

The panel also said that there was a link between Bt Cotton and farmers’ suicide.

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