Bihar has become the first State to reject the commercial cultivation of genetically modified or Bt brinjal, if only temporarily.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has said the issue was carefully considered by the Rajya Kisan Ayog, which, after deliberations with farmers, agricultural scientists and agricultural officers was of the opinion that there should be an adequate number of trials to see its performance in different agro-climatic conditions in the State. Such trials should be held involving agricultural research institutions in the State, the Ayog said in its report.
In a letter to the Minister of State (Independent charge) Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh, the Bihar Chief Minister said the Ayog also noted that no data was provided on the commercial aspect of cultivation of Bt brinjal, which was important from the point of view of farmers who are mostly small and marginal farmers. “The Ayog is therefore not in favour introduction of Bt brinjal in the State at this point. The recommendations of the Rajya Kisan Ayog have been considered and fully endorsed by the government,” Mr. Kumar said. Bihar accounts for 11 per cent of brinjal cultivation in the country.
Earlier, Mr. Ramesh sought opinions from the six brinjal-producing States on the issue including West Bengal that produces 30 per cent of brinjal, Orissa accounting for 20 per cent, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh (six per cent each) and Karnataka 4 per cent.
The Minister’s letters to these States were ahead of the public consultations beginning January 13. The Minister has also written to 50 scientists involved in genetic engineering, biotechnology and agriculture in the U.S., UK, France, Australia and India. Opinion has also been sought from the Ministry of Health, Department of Biotechnology and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research.