A leading opponent of transgenic crops, P.M. Bhargava, who is also the Supreme Court-appointed observer at the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), rubbished a report by six science academies to the government—which declared Bt brinjal safe. The report appeared in the HT on Friday.
Led by him, Indian advocacy groups opposed to GM crops are set to take their campaign to Philippines, a country which was given free access to the Bt brinjal technology by its Indian developers.
Bhargava will travel to Manila on Sunday to launch a Greenpeace campaign against GM crops there.
Taking on some of India’s best known science institutions on their Bt brinjal report, Bhargava said: “I am amazed at the poor scientific quality of the report which neither tells the entire truth nor has taken into account the enormous amount of highly reliable scientific literature on the various risks of GM crops.”
Unlike in India, the Bt brinjal project in Philippines is principally a public-sector effort. The University of the Philippines Los Banos started the work on Bt eggplant in 2003-04 under a South-South and public-private technology partnership with Indian firms and universities. It has completed the first season of multi-location field trials in three different sites in the country.
“We are set to start the second season field trials in a total of seven sites all over the country this October, 2010,” Desiree M. Hautea of the University of the Philippines Los Banos told HT.
The strong outburst is unlikely to go down well with the rest of the scientific community. Ramesh had appointed the academies to not just scrutinise Bt brinjal, but also give a rigorous opinion on GM crops.