Kerala Minister for Agriculture Mullakara Ratnakaran urged the Ministry of Environment and Forests on Monday that a public consultation on permitting release of genetically modified crops in the country should be held in Kerala also.

The Minister made this demand in a letter to the Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jayaram Ramesh against the background of the decision of the Ministry to hold consultations in different parts of the country. As per current plans of the Ministry, consultations covering South India were to be held only in Hyderabad and Bangalore.

Mr. Ratnakaran noted many protests against introduction of genetically modified brinjal (Bt Brinjal) were taking place in Kerala. The State Biodiversity Board had raised the demand that Bt Brinjal should be banned in Kerala.

Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan had demanded earlier that Kerala should be kept free of genetically modified crops, considering its biodiversity and other factors. So, the consultation should be held in Kerala also.

(Bt Brinjal is a transgenic brinjal created by inserting a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into brinjal. This is said to give the plant resistance against insects like the brinjal fruit and shoot borer and fruit borer. The promoters say that Bt Brinjal will be beneficial to small farmers because it is insect resistant, increases yields, is more cost-effective and will have minimal environmental impact. On the other hand, concerns about Bt Brinjal relate to its possible adverse impact on human health and bio-safety, livelihoods and biodiversity.)