Tag Archives: Bt Brinjal

Reason triumphs over Bt brinjal!

February 23, 2010

By embargoing Bt brinjal, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh may have done a greater service to democracy than he intended, says Praful Bidwai.

April: Why can’t our governments take a page from India? Although North America is fairly entrenched in GM crops, this story does offer hope to those of us that actively march against GMO. India is fighting for their right to choose what to grow, and won’t allow the government to cease their voices. Bt Cotton’s failure was good timing….

India has done something unusual in defying the long-established trend of capitulating to corporate power.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh must be complimented for imposing a moratorium on the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) brinjal (or baigan, also called aubergine and eggplant) developed by Mahyco-Monsanto in collaboration with two Indian agricultural universities.

He deserves encomiums for consulting stakeholders in major brinjal-producing states like West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. This public consultation approach sets a good precedent. It deserves to become a model for governmental decision-making on all issues that concern people’s livelihoods.

To appreciate the moratorium rationally, one need not go as far as former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology P M Bhargava did in euphorically describing it as “the single most important decision taken by any minister since Independence”.

Yet, it couldn’t have been easy to take in the face of feverish lobbying by Monsanto, one of the world’s most powerful multinationals.

Monsanto, which controls 84 per cent of the global GM seeds market and has a long reach in the United States and Indian governments, lobbied for Bt brinjal in league with other biotechnology companies and groups of plant breeders with a stake in developing GM foods.

They were backed by major sections of the corporate media which fervently campaigned for Bt brinjal and celebrated all GM technology as safe and unproblematic and as the key to India’s food security.

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Abuses of Biotechnology posing Threats to Survival

Monday 22 February 2010, by Sailendra Nath Ghosh

The following is the lucidest possible exposition of transgenic genetic engineering. There has been no other exposition anywhere with comparable lucidity of this intricate subject. Since this kind of engineering poses a threat to life’s survival on earth, it has become a crucial political issue. This article was published in Mainstream Annual 2001 (dated December 22, 2001). It is being reproduced here, with minor alternations by the author, in view of the latest controversy surrounding Bt brinjal.

Despite this massive evidence that harmony with Nature gives plentitude and permanence, the practitioners of “nature-conquering science” are now embarking on an yet more dangerous course—namely, “transgenic genetic engineering”. Bioscience—whose purpose was to understand the interlinkages between and among plant and animal species and to find thereform the clues to least expensive agri- and other cultures and cures for diseases—has long been hijacked by commercial interests to enthrone biotechnology, in which the emphasis is on mass production rather than production by the masses. Hybridisation, tissue culture, even cloning to a limited extent of endangered species to repair the damage of near-extinction already done to bioresources, was permissible. But what is now being attempted in the wake of the failure of the “Green Revolution” is a hydra-headed disaster, a biological holocaust, more insidious than nuclear holocaust because it is silent and, in the initial stages, imperceptible.

The “bright” idea is to transfer genes to unrelated species that never interbreed in nature, such as inserting toad genes into potatoes or genes of some bacteria into crop plants. Scientists have taken the gene in a firefly that emits light and inserted it into the genetic code of tobacco plant. Anti-freeze gene from the “flounder fish” has been inserted into the genetic code of tomato plant to protect the plant from cold spells. Insecticide producing gene from bacteria and viruses are being inserted into plants. Attempts are being made to create novel life forms that have not existed before.

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Genetic Engineer speaks out against GMO’s

14/09/2009 (but still important)

Michael Antoniou teaches Molecular Genetics at King’s College, London. In his spare time, he likes to help non-profits with information on the science of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Savvy Soumya Misra met him at a workshop in Delhi recently where he was vocal against GMOs. Edited excerpts.

Jairam Ramesh, minister of state for environment and forests, recently said GM crop (Bt cotton) is acceptable but GM food (Bt brinjal) is not.

This is the first time I have heard somebody make this distinction. People who draw this distinction see cotton as a non-food product but they forget cotton seeds are used for oil, animals eat the stub after harvest and farmers are always in contact with cotton. There is evidence that these farmers have suffered allergic reactions; this needs an official follow-up though. Both environmental and health implications have to be taken into account.

Hazards of GMO’s

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Bloomberg India Rejects First GM Vegetable, Hampering Monsanto Expansion

February 09, 2010, 09:04 AM EST

By Jay Shankar and Thomas Kutty Abraham

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — India’s government rejected the nation’s first genetically modified food after protests by farmers, hampering the expansion of seed makers including Monsanto Co. in the world’s second-most populous nation.

“There is no overriding food security argument for Bt brinjal,” or genetically modified eggplant, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said at a press conference in the capital, New Delhi. “Our objective is to restore public confidence and trust in Bt brinjal.” A moratorium will be imposed until safety studies are carried out “to the satisfaction of the scientific community,” he said.

Ramesh, 55, had to balance the technology’s promise to help feed a nation growing by 18 million people a year, more than the population of the Netherlands, and concern that food safety and threats to biodiversity have not been investigated. Monsanto, the world’s largest seed maker, supplied the gene for the vegetable and introduced genetically modified cotton in India eight years ago.

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Monsanto ‘faked’ data for approvals claims its ex-chief

The debate on genetically modified (GM) brinjal variety continues to generate heat. Former managing director of Monsanto India, Tiruvadi Jagadisan, is the latest to join the critics of Bt brinjal, perhaps the first industry insider to do so.

Jagadisan, who worked with Monsanto for nearly two decades, including eight years as the managing director of India operations, spoke against the new variety during the public consultation held in Bangalore on Saturday.

On Monday, he elaborated by saying the company “used to fake scientific data” submitted to government regulatory agencies to get commercial approvals for its products in India.

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