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.