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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

World

Bangladesh nod to Bt brinjal, India at risk
Bharati Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times
August 26, 2013
First Published: 01:55 IST(26/8/2013)
Last Updated: 01:57 IST(26/8/2013)

In India, Bt brinjal is under an indefinite moratorium because of uncertainty over its  health and environmental impact. Many of us, therefore, believe that we are safe from this one for now, and our rich brinjal gene-pool is protected.

Perhaps not, thanks to Bangladesh's new policy that may allow Bt brinjal to be commercially released and India stands threatened amid all this.  Most obviously, the gene pool of indigenous brinjal in Bangladesh will be contaminated.

This could seep through to India because the borders are porous and there is trading in food, as well as natural dispersal and cross fertilization and other processes, over time. Secondly, activists point out, the SAFTA (South Asia Free Trade Agreement) creates a free trade zone between south Asian countries, including Bangladesh and India.

This is likely to challenge India's own sovereign decision to protect its people. Thirdly, the contaminated brinjals will be traded and eaten by Indians, a possibility unacceptable for the potential bodily harm it can bring.

Why should we be put at risk by Bt brinjal after preventing it nationally? And what to do? To begin with, our own representatives-political and diplomatic, must treat this as an emergency. It is one, because it endangers every Indian's health.

Second, they should be advocating at the highest levels of decision-making in Bangladesh, to stop this plan. Third, they should appeal at SAFTA.

Our government has to stop Bangladesh from becoming the weakest link in the south Asia's environment and health chain.


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