Civil society groups and non-governmental organisations have strongly voiced their disapproval of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) recommending commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal in India.

This is happening even as there are many unresolved issues surrounding the environmental release of the transgenic vegetable and genuine concerns over its safety for human consumption.

There is also the threat of all future seeds and therefore Indian agriculture coming under the control of global multinational companies and the charging of exorbitant prices from Indian farmers, a statement issued by the All-India Kisan Sabha said here on Wednesday.

The monopoly of MNCs like Monsanto over the seeds is another major concern, as seeds are no longer in the public domain since they are now the “intellectual property” of these multinationals, the statement said.

The Kisan Sabha said there should be no hasty introduction of Bt Brinjal without addressing these concerns, and has demanded transparency from the GEAC and making public the nature of trials carried out and the bio-safety of the products.

‘Shocking’ decision

Greenpeace, the global environmental activist group, has said it was shocking that the GEAC had “mindlessly” gone ahead and approved Bt Brinjal even when informed scientists and citizens of the country raised serious concerns on the nature of the safety studies.

In June this year, Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said he did not support genetically engineered foods and that there was no great urgency for Bt Brinjal, Greenpeace activist Jai Krishna said in a statement.

Mr. Krishna also pointed out that the approval process had been mired in controversy due to the complete lack of transparency and the vested interests of experts in the committee reviewing the study.

Kavitha Kuruganti of the Kheti Virasat Mission described the approval as a “shame” for India and described the decision as unacceptable. “It is a shame that regulators in the country have put the interests of corporations over the interests of ordinary citizens,” she said.

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