On a day when the commercial release of Bt Brinjal was recommended by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) denied that Pusa Basmati 1121 rice (exported to the Middle East) was genetically modified as was reported in a section of the Iranian Press.

Obviously genetically modified rice has no export market, and attempts to brand Pusa 1121 as such were meant to hurt India’s interests.

“No genetically modified Basmati rice has been released or commercialised in India. Therefore, the question of Pusa 1121 being genetically modified does not arise,” the IARI said a release issued here on Wednesday.

The IARI said it was incorrect and misleading to say the Pusa 1121 grains were genetically modified and contaminated with heavy metals as reported in a section of the Iranian Press.

“ … based on the analysis of the market samples of Pusa Basmati 1121 rice done on the highest precision levels of parts per billion (ppb) scale at the IARI, New Delhi, the rice is absolutely safe for consumption, and it does not contain heavy metals like arsenic or contain heavy metals such as lead, cadmium and nickel at such low levels which cannot cause any harm to human health even on daily consumption,” the statement said.

The IARI, which developed the long-grain variety, has carried out detailed analyses of heavy metals in grain samples obtained from the market, using the graphite furnace version of the Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer at the highest precision level of parts per billion (ppb).

“There is no reason for the rice industry and farmers to panic about the Iranian Press report on heavy-metal contamination in Pusa 1121. The farmers of India, who were able to produce the quantity required despite the drought situation, should deservingly get a sustainable and right price commanded by the variety that is the most priced commercial rice in the market,” the IARI said.

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