Inter-Academy Report Endorses Commercial Approval of Bt Brinjal
Six top science academies of India endorse the safety of Bt brinjal and recommend the commercial approval of Bt brinjal in India. The "Inter-Academy Report on GM Crops" says Bt brinjal deserves special attention in terms of its immediate relevance. Available evidence has shown that Bt brinjal is safe for human consumption and that its environmental effects are negligible. It is appropriate to release Bt brinjal for cultivation in specific farmers' fields in identified states.
The report was prepared at the request of Mr. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment & Forests and Dr. K. Kasturirangan, Member of Planning Commission under the auspices of six top science academies including the Indian Academy of Sciences (http://www.ias.ac.in/), the Indian National Science Academy (http://www.insaindia.org/), the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (http://www.naasindia.org/), the National Academy of Medical Sciences (http://www.nams-india.in/), the National Academy of Sciences (http://www.nasi.org.in/) and the Indian National Academy of Engineering (http://www.inae.org/). The report concentrates on GM crops in general and on the specific issue of Bt brinjal in particular in India. It endorses the application of biotechnology in agriculture on a case-by-case basis. "Transgenic crops are one possible alternative and complementary technology products which can contribute to the on-going efforts of genetic enhancement of crops. The technology does not replace conventional plant breeding, hybrid seed technology, molecular breeding or organic farming but complements them in the over-all objective of attaining food security", the report said.
As regard to Bt brinjal, the report concludes that "the available scientific evidence does not indicate any appreciable effect of GM crops on biodiversity. The regulatory mechanism in place in India for approval of release of transgenic crops is strong. However, the same is not true about monitoring after release. A specific mechanism should be created for post-release monitoring, which should include provisions for providing effective technical advice to the farmer". Immediate steps should be taken to restore confidence and allay fears that the moratorium would influence research on transgenics and their use on individual merit. Spreading public awareness on Bt brinjal, and transgenics in general, is important and mechanisms for doing so should be set up.
Download a copy of the report at http://www.naasindia.org and http://www.insaindia.org A Hindustan Times article "Six top science bodies' verdict: Bt brinjal safe" is available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/Six-top-science-bodies-verdict-Bt-brinjal-safe/H1-Article1-603915.aspx
This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)