Bt brinjal booed at first hearing | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Bt brinjal booed at first hearing

In the first public hearing on Bt brinjal in India, three out of every four speakers — scientists, farmers, NGO activists and politicians — opposed introduction of the genetically modified vegetable.

kolkata Updated: Jan 14, 2010 00:25 IST
Debdutta Ghosh

In the first public hearing on Bt brinjal in India, three out of every four speakers — scientists, farmers, NGO activists and politicians — opposed introduction of the genetically modified vegetable.

Kolkata was the venue of the first of seven public hearings on the issue being organised by the Centre for Environment Education, an autonomous body funded by the Union Ministry of Environment.

The hearings are being held to gauge public opinion following the criticism of the ministry’s decision to introduce Bt brinjal in India. Opponents of Bt brinjal say it is harmful for consumption and would destroy all 2,500 indigenous varieties of brinjals in India through cross-pollination as the Bt variety is genetically superior.

This would result in a monopoly for US multinational Monsanto, which has secured exclusive rights to market the seeds in India, critics said.

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh attended the session that went on for more than three hours and ended with 41 of the 56 speakers protesting against introduction of Bt brinjal.

“I have come here with an open mind. I am trying to find out what the country thinks and feels about the issue,” said Ramesh.

“The indigenous breeds of brinjals will ultimately be lost. This will result in a monopoly of a particular multinational (Monsanto),” said Tushar Chakrabroty of the Kolkata-based Indian Institute of Chemical Biology.

Bengal farmer Sujauddin said, “I cultivate to earn money. If Bt brinjal results in increased production, I will go for it.” “Bt brinjal is for rich farmers only. Small and marginal farmers will not benefit,” said Murari Yadav, an entomologist (expert on insects).