8/14/2019 Bt Brinjal Indian Chapter
Bt Brinjal- The Indian Chapter
Indias biotechnology regulator Genetic Engineering ApprovalCommittee (GEAC), onOctober 14th gave its green
signal to the environmentalrelease of Bt brinjal, the firstgenetically modified foodcrop to be allowed in thecountry. With this, a debatehas gripped the entire nationof whether or not to allow GMfood crops as this could be aprecedent for many othersuch crops.
Though GEAC has put
its stamp on the crop, thefinal decision rests with theUnion Environment Minister, Mr. Jairam Ramesh who has explicitlyaverred that the matter will be treated with no urgency and only afterpublic deliberations will a final decision arise. However, apart fromenvironment minister Jairam Rameshs nod, commercial cultivation ofthe genetically modified vegetable will require approvals from theministries of agriculture and health and family welfare.
Currently, Bt cotton is the only genetically modified crop allowedfor commercial cultivation and its introduction was prompted by itspests becoming increasingly resistant to pesticides. The commercial
cultivation of Bt cotton has reportedly increased cotton yield from308kg per hectare in 2001 to 508kg per hectare in 2006. The successof Bt cotton in India has in fact raised hopes for Bt brinjal as well.Although brinjal may not transform Indias fortune as was the case withBt cotton, it might as well clear the deck for many such similarinterventions.
The most prominent thing that irks the supporters as well as itscritics is the absence of a labeling mechanism for foods in India. Thiswill deprive the consumers to make an informed choice about thefoods they consume. More over the labs in the country are not atpresent capable of identifying GM products, and there is also a bigquestion hovering of who will regulate these products. Whether it willbe the Ministry of Food, or will it be Health; Environment or Scienceand Technology or is there any other separate ministry to be formed inthe future to look into the GM matters. Without a clear agreement onthese issues, a decision cannot be arrived on this matter. But the timegranted should be used constructively to assess the impact of the BtBrinjal on the Socio Economic tapestry of Indian Agriculture.