The Chhattisgarh government has sought the intervention of Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in not allowing commercial cultivation of genetically modified BT brinjal in the country.
“We are seeking the intervention of the environment minister to stop commercial cultivation of BT brinjal. We have already sent a letter to Jairam Ramesh and also the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in this regard,” Chhattisgarh Agriculture Minister Chandrashekhar Sahu told PTI here today.
Biotechnology regulator Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on October 14 had cleared Bt brinjal — the country’s first genetically modified (GM) food — for commercial use. The government is, however, yet to take a decision on the matter.
Mr. Sahu said the committee’s decision was taken in haste so as to serve the “vested commercial interest of multi-national companies such as Monsanto” which are involved in developing genetically-modified crops.
Before giving the nod to commercial cultivation of such crops, the government should make a proper policy in consultation with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and other research organisations, he said.
“Commercial farming of the genetically modified vegetable would have serious impact on human life as well as environment,” he said citing dispute among the members of GEAC on the matter.
Molecular biologist and one of the GEAC members P. M. Bhargava also opposed the committee’s decision, he said, adding that allowing its farming would lead to further food scarcity in the country rather than providing food security.
Mr. Sahu said his government has discussed the matter with other States like Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh who have also opposed to the introduction of GM food in the country.
“We want to convey to the environment minister the concerns of all States regarding the environmental threat due to GM food,” he said.
Bt. brinjal has been developed by Mahyco—Monsanto Biotech, a joint venture between Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company and US firm Monsanto.
Chhattisgarh government is forming a study team to assess the impact of cultivation of GM food, he said.
The minister was in the capital to attend the 43rd session of the standing labour committee.