Govt panel clears Bt Brinjal for entry as first GM food

In a major decision that could pave the way for large-scale cultivation of genetically modified food crops in India, the country’s top regulatory authority for transgenic crops on Wednesday gave its in-principle approval for the commercial cultivation of Bt Brinjal, a genetically modified variety of the vegetable that is claimed to be more resistant to pests.

If cleared — the call has to be taken by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh — Bt Brinjal, developed by the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (MAHYCO) with technology sourced from the US multinational Monsanto, will be the first genetically modified edible item to be cleared for commercial cultivation in the country. The Tamil Nadu Agriculture University and the University of Agricultural Sciences, Dharwad, were partners in Bt Brinjal’s development.

As of now, India allows only one genetically modified crop — Bt Cotton — to be grown. It was cleared for cultivation in 2002 and has been a huge success since then, multiplying the yield many times.

About 50 other genetically modified crops, nearly 40 of which are food items, are under various stages of development in the country. These include rice, tomato, cabbage, wheat and watermelon. ……….

Nearly 5 lakh hectares of land in India is under brinjal cultivation, producing about 80 lakh tonnes of the vegetable annually.

The yield can be much higher though as an estimated 50 to 70 per cent of brinjal is damaged by the shoot and fruit borer pests. The Bt-brinjal is supposed to have greater resistance to these pests and also claimed to be more environment friendly.

Bt Brinjal, which is now just one step away from being cleared, has been the test case for transgenic crops in the country. But Ramesh has in the past made a “distinction” between Bt Cotton and Bt Brinjal arguing that Bt cotton is a non-edible item and, therefore, need not necessarily be the reason why other transgenic crops should also be allowed for cultivation…………

Thanks to: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/govt-panel-clears-bt-brinjal-for-entry-as-first-gm-food/529241/

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