The Centre for Environment Education (CEE) has urged the farmers, agricultural experts, non-governmental organisations and all other stakeholders in the State to attend the consultation on Bt. Brinjal being held in Bangalore on January 25.
CEE Senior Project Officer P.V. Mohanan said at a press conference here on Wednesday that the consultation in Bangalore was part of a nation-wide initiative by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to hear different views on the issue in the wake of the controversy generated by the recommendation of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), a statutory body of the MoEF, to environmentally release Bt. Brinjan in the country based on the recommendations of the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation, a statutory body, and two expert committees constituted by the GEAC between 2006 and 2009. Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh would chair the consultations in all the seven locations including Bangalore, he said adding that the CEE, an autonomous organisation engaged in environmental and sustainability education has been entrusted with the task of organising the consultations.
The consultations were being held in the wake of strong views raised both for and against the introduction of Bt. Brinjan, a transgenic brinjal created by inserting a gene cry1Ac from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into brinjal, which is said to have given the brinjal plant resistance against lepidopteran insects, Dr. Mohanan said. While the promoters of Bt. Brinjal say that it will be beneficial to small farmers as it is insect-resistant and increases yields and has minimal environmental impact, there are also conerns about its possible adverse impact on human health and biod-safety, livelihoods and biodiversity. While industry promoters as well as public and private sector scientists consider Bt. Brinjal a breakthrough in agricultural research and development in the country, many scientists, civil society groups, farmers' unions and even some political parties argued that the risks far exceeded the benefits.
The objectives of the national consultations on Bt. Brinjal was to provide a forum for various stakeholders to express their views and concerns on the genetically modified brinjal and to provide appropriate inputs to the government before a final decision was taken, he said. The consultations would be open to all members of the public. Stakeholder groups representing diverse viewpoints on the issue would be invited to the consultations to ensure widest possible participation in them, he said.