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Panel’s disclaimer to Ramesh

A state-run organisation that preserves biodiversity has denied giving any official inputs to environment minister Jairam Ramesh, as cited by the minister while clamping a freeze on Bt brinjal.

delhi Updated: Feb 15, 2010 00:57 IST
Zia Haq

A state-run organisation that preserves biodiversity has denied giving any official inputs to environment minister Jairam Ramesh, as cited by the minister while clamping a freeze on Bt brinjal.

Ramesh, in his report, had cited the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, thus: “The bureau also points out that diversity-rich regions are likely to be affected by the introduction of the Bt brinjal due to gene flow.”

The bureau’s director, S.K. Sharma, has said this was not his institution’s position but that of individual scientists. “Our bureau has not done any study on the issue. We cannot give such a view without a study,” Sharma said.

Ramesh said the views were still worth noting. “They are valid because they are reflect a concern. They must have the freedom to do so.”

The launch of Bt brinjal, India’s first genetically modified food crop, has been indefinitely put off due to fierce differences.

The comments, appearing as a slide on page 170-171 of the annexure of Ramesh’s Bt brinjal report, were from K.S. Varaprasad and N. Sivaraj, both scientists from the bureau’s Hyderabad station.

Varaprasad and Sivaraj’s slide presentation articulated concerns that non-Bt brinjal varieties could be contaminated by the gene flow from Bt brinjal. But Sharma said: “The views cannot be scientific inputs from our bureau as we never did a study. We were only thinking of doing one.”

Ramesh said there was a clear lack of consensus on Bt brinjal and moratorium was a judicious option.

He, however, said “moratorium” should not be confused with “ban” and efforts were on for a more transparent way to handle genetically modified crops.