Four days after environment minister Jairam Ramesh put a moratorium on the commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal, Union Science and Technology Minister Prithviraj Chavan on Saturday said that the genetically modified vegetable was safe as per the research.
Chavan, who is himself a scientist, said emotions should be kept away from scientific merit.
"This whole exercise has been done in nine years. Scientists have studied the whole structure completely and are completely satisfied that Bt brinjal is safe for human consumption," he told reporters when asked about the controversy over Bt brinjal.
Chavan was speaking following the signing of the second bilateral India-UK Science and Innovation Council collaboration agreement on civil nuclear energy, health, water and food production.
"Depending on what scientists have done over a period of time, we are satisfied. If you go by science, Bt brinjal is safe," said Chavan. "We will have a debate in a scientific manner. My only request is that don't emotionalise the issue. Let's discuss the issue on scientific merit alone."
"Definitive answers, you will have to wait for the parliament. Let me tell you that we stand by the system of bio-safety checks we have put in place. It begins at institutional level," he said.
Chavan emphasised on setting up of a regulatory authority for the bio-safety standards. The government has initiated the process for setting up of National Bio-Technology Regulatory Authority.
Research on the genetic-modified varieties are done at the Department of Science and Technology labs where safety issues are examined. Then they go to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, which is the apex agency for giving permission for commercial cultivation of the crops.
The GEAC had given approval for the commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal last October.
“I am not saying more or less. They (GEAC) have cleared it. There is no more or less to it,” he said to a question.