Even as the debate over the release of Bt Brinjal for commercial cultivation continues unabated, Union Science and Technology Minister, Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday asserted that the genetically modified variety of the popular vegetable was ``safe’’.

``We stand by the results of the trials done by the regulatory bodies. It is safe for all’’, he said, replying to a volley of questions over the controversy at an interaction with journalists here.

He pointed out that the country’s premier regulatory body for genetically modified products, the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, had cleared Bt Brinjal for regular cultivation in October last year.

Mr. Chavan’s assertion comes even as the Union Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh has launched a nation-wide consultation with different stakeholders following opposition to the GEAC’s decision from some NGOs.

Bt Brinjal has been developed by inserting into brinjal seeds, genes from a soil bacterium called bacillus thuringiensis, which had the ability to protect plants from a variety of pests. The new variety has been developed by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds.

Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, M.K.Bhan, who was also present at the interaction, noted that eminent scientists had examined the science behind Bt Brinjal and had concluded that it was absolutely safe for human consumption and the environment.

Adding his voice in support of Bt Brinjal, Director General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Samir Brahmachari said farmers would save a lot of money by cultivating it, instead of the normal variety of the vegetable.

The interaction was part of the annual conference of social sector editors of newspapers from different parts of the country organised by the Central Government’s Press Information Bureau.