A two-day high-level national meeting on ‘Genetically Modified Crops - Merits and Demerits’, held here on Tuesday and Wednesday, in its declaration, has concluded that India should not allow commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal and other genetically modified (GM) crops and that the country should be kept free of GM crops and food.

The declaration of the meeting, organised by the State Agriculture Department and the Biodiversity Board, was adopted on Wednesday evening after discussions at which Ministers, senior officials, scientists and representatives of the civil societies from various parts of the country participated. Besides Ministers, including the Chief Minister from Kerala, Ministers from Punjab and Madhya Pradesh attended the meeting, as also top ranking officials from 11 States and scientists from several agricultural universities in the country.

Moral responsibility

The meeting resolved that, as the custodian of the third mega-biodiversity centre of the world, the people of India had the moral responsibility to protect the country’s rich biodiversity from any action that could destroy it.

The declaration said: “We recognise that there is more than enough evidence to show that GM crops such as Bt brinjal will have serious impact on biodiversity, agro-biodiversity, farmer control of seeds, traditional knowledge systems of farming, safety of food, people’s health and traditional healing systems.

“The growing understanding of genetic engineering as a technology applied in food and agriculture is highly reductionist and evidences show that there is no long-term sustainability.

“We also understand that there is an undue haste in introducing Bt brinjal, seriously compromising on even mandatory bio-safety tests and without even establishing its relevance.”