The West Bengal government has expressed concern over a proposal of the Centre to allow commercial cultivation of genetically-modified Bt-brinjal, saying that it had the potential to threaten bio-diversity, destabilise eco-systems and limit future agricultural possibilities.

In a letter to Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh on Thursday Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said “there are clear reasons to be concerned about ‘gene spills’ or the contamination of landraces by the engineered variety.”

“This means it has the potential to threaten bio-diversity, destabilise important eco-systems and limit agricultural possibilities in a region,” he added.

Earlier in a letter, Mr. Ramesh had sought the view of the State government on commercial cultivation of Bt-brinjal.

Mr. Bhattacharjee said that with genetic engineering introducing the possibilities of physiologic or biochemical effects on the target varieties, there remained vital questions of the impact of genetically-modified crops on human health.

“The current generation of commercially available crops also raise concerns linked to pesticide uses as Bt crops are designed to internally create their own pesticides. While in the short term, one might expect some decrease in the use of pesticide, in the long run it may not be very effective,” he pointed out.