Environment minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday said the moratorium on Bt brinjal — India’s first genetically modified food —could not be lifted until there was a broad-based scientific consensus, acceptance by state governments and before a new regulatory mechanism takes shape.
Ramesh called a report by six premier science academies on Bt brinjal, which he ordered and Hindustan Times reported first on September 24, “disappointing”.
The report has been criticised roundly for lacking “scientific rigour” and appears to have damaged, rather than salvage, the transgenic eggplant’s reputation.
“It is disappointing and I hope for a more broad-based scientific report. It needed not have political arguments but should be scientifically robust,” Ramesh told HT.
“It is almost like a PR job,” the minister said.
The report, signed by the chiefs of six topmost science bodies, lacked citations, references and even footnotes, exposing its authors to charges of plagiarism and of doing a rush job.
Ramesh criticised the report for being, on the one hand, “measured and circumspect” on GM crops overall, but going “overboard” specifically on Bt brinjal, on the other.
Lack of citations has shown the report in poor academic light, plunging some of India’s most respected institutions into disrepute.
“Citations are critical. Sometimes, the footnotes are more important. That’s what differentiates an academic work from journalism,” said S. Mahendra Dev, vice-chancellor of the Mumbai-based Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research.
3.The report, signed by the chiefs of six topmost science bodies, lacked citations, references and even footnotes, exposing its authors to charges of plagiarism.