Roy Mathew

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: More than 15 persons representing non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from Kerala will attend a public consultation being organised by the Ministry of Environment in Bangalore on January 25 on permitting commercial release of genetically modified brinjal (Bt brinjal) in the country.

Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had announced the holding of consultations at different places following protests against the approval granted by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee under the Ministry for the first-ever release of a genetically modified (GM) food in India.

NGOs such as Thanal, Jaiva Karshaka Samithi, One Earth One Life, Chilla, Periyar Malineekarana Virudha Samithi, Karshika Karma Sena (Thiruvananthapuram) and Haritha Sena (Kozhikode) are opposing the release citing risks.

According to these NGOs, there is extensive evidence demonstrating that GM crops and food items cause adverse impact on human and animal health, and also on the environment.

In addition, it seriously compromises the socio-political and economic rights and cultural norms of farmers and consumers.

Warn of health risks

Experts warned that GM crops, especially food items, significantly increased health risks, caused crop failures, contributed to loss of agricultural and natural biodiversity, and seriously eroded livelihood choices.

A recent study, published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, showed that genetically modified corn caused damage to organs in rats. Effects were mostly associated with kidney and liver though heart, adrenal glands, spleen and haematopoietic system were also found to be affected.

Campaigners against Bt brinjal said the approval committee had violated transparent, fair, independent and scientific enquiry norms. Many members of the committee were representatives of institutions promoting GM crops.