Biotech veteran Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has slammed attempts to politicise the Bt brinjal issue and said the decision to opt or desist from cultivating the genetically modified crop should be left to farmers.
"I have always maintained that Bt crops need to be scientifically evaluated," she told PTI. "It is impossible to have a sensible discussion on GM crops when it is hijacked to unsubstantiated emotional levels."
The biotech major Biocon Chairman said there is a regulatory path for GM crops which aims to establish safety and efficacy over an accepted period and it has been diligently followed by Bt brinjal on the basis of which the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has given its positive verdict.
"If threats and allegations reverse this verdict, it will be a regulatory failing," she said, and expressed hope that Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh takes his decision with due respect being shown to scientific evaluation and the fact that Bt brinjal "is an option, not a mandate."
"It is up to farmers to opt or desist from cultivating Bt brinjal as in the case of Bt cotton. If there are no tangible benefits, there will be no takers for Bt brinjal. Let the farmers decide," Mazumdar-Shaw suggested.
The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee had last year given the go ahead for commercialisation of Bt brinjal but has faced staiff resistance from consumer groups and NGOs.