Bt Brinjal frozen until indpendent scientific study, says Ramesh

No clear consensus among the scientists and stake-holders, the minister says to put the decision on hold

PTI | February 9, 2010


File photo of Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh
File photo of Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh

Facing intense opposition from within and outside, government today refused to give a go-ahead to commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal, a genetically-modified version of the vegetable that is said to be more resistant to pests.

Announcing a cautious approach of the government, Environment and Forests Minister Jairam Ramesh said there was "no clear consensus" among the scientists and stake-holders on giving permission to Bt Brinjal and more studies needed to be conducted.

"There is no over-riding urgency to introduce it... When the public sentiments have been negative, it is my duty to adopt a cautious, precautionary and principle-based approach," he told a hurriedly-called press conference which was originally scheduled for tomorrow.

"I will not impose a decision till such time independent scientific studies establish safety of the product from long-term view of human health," Ramesh said.

He said it was a difficult decision to take but he had to balance many issues of science and society and producer and consumer.

However, he made it clear that today's decision applied only to Bt Brinjal and does not cover future of genetically-modified crops, be it ladyfinger, cabbage or rice.

Ramesh's decision came after a series of public consultations in seven cities across the country, that often turned acrimonious. A number of state governments, including Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh, have publicly opposed the introduction of Bt Brinjal.

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