The moratorium on Bt brinjal stays.
A meeting convened by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to sort out divergent views of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan, and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on the ban and the future of genetically modified crops, took a middle path.
The meeting ended with everyone agreeing that while biotechnology was an important option for higher agricultural production and food security, “we must ensure that it has no adverse effects on human and animal health and bio-diversity”.
“It is hoped that the GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) will address… resolving all scientific issues relating to Bt brinjal,” a PMO statement said.
The moratorium was not discussed at length, a senior official, who did not wish to be identified, told HT. It was, however, decided that setting up of the National Biotechnology Regulatory Authority should be expedited. A Bill was likely to be introduced in the current session of Parliament, the official said. It would seek to regulate research, import, transport, use of organisms and products produced from modern bio-technology.
The authority would stimulate public and private investment in bio-technology, the PMO statement said.
The meeting was called after Pawar wrote a six-page letter to the PM.
At an informal interaction with journalists earlier in the day, Ramesh said Pawar's letter was "on the future of GM crops. I presume that the meeting today evening is to discuss that...I don't know what the meeting's outcome will be... (but) the moratorium on Bt brinjal stands."
In his letter, Pawar sought to know who would be the final authority to clear GM crops. Chavan is believed to have said Bt brinjal was safe but he was not against more tests.
At the meeting, Ramesh is said to have urged the PM and his colleagues that the duration provided by the indefinite moratorium should be used to put in place regulation mechanism that would strive for scientific and political consensus.