State mum on Bt brinjal | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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State mum on Bt brinjal

There is a raging public debate on this issue all over the country.

mumbai Updated: Feb 01, 2010 01:25 IST
Ketaki Ghoge

There is a raging public debate on this issue all over the country.

But, Maharashtra — one of the six important states cultivating brinjal — has no opinion on whether genetically modified brinjal should make its way or not to our markets.

This, even after Minister of Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh last week said he was awaiting a response from the state government on the issue.

“I had written to various chief ministers for their views on Bt brinjal. Maharashtra is yet to respond. We will wait,” Ramesh had said at a public hearing in Nagpur last week.
The public hearing was part of a nationwide consultation held by the minister.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan told Hindustan Times that he has not written to the Centre on the matter. “I have not received any input from the Centre on this. The Agriculture department will have more information.’’

“There has been no communication from the Centre to us asking for our response on Bt brinjal. As such, so far the state has no formal opinion on the matter. We may hold meeting this week,” said Agriculture Minister Balasaheb Thorat.

States such as West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar, which account for nearly 60 per cent of brinjal production, have written to the ministry opposing the move to allow commercial cultivation of the genetically modified brinjal.

Maharashtra accounts for six per cent of the production of brinjal in the country. At the Nagpur hearing, attended by over 800 people, 30 farmers opposed Bt brinjal while 10 were for it.

Among the speaker representatives from the scientific community, 15 opposed it while seven supported it and all 17 non-governmental activists rejected it.

No government representative attended the meet.

The Centre Genetic Engineering Approval Committee had cleared Bt brinjal last October for commercial cultivation, after which the final approval was to be given by the Environment ministry.

If approved, Bt brinjal will be the second genetically engineered crop after cotton to enter India’s markets. It will be the first such crop to make it to our dinning table.