Crop Biotech Update

India's Scientific Panel Favors Limited Release of Bt Brinjal

April 29, 2011

An independent joint panel of India's Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee and eminent scientists on gene technology favor the lifting of the moratorium and allow limited release of Bt brinjal under strict monitoring during the first meeting of the expert panel held on April 27,  2011 in New Delhi, India. The expert panel was invited by the GEAC to examine new safety standards for Bt brinjal and deliberate on issues relating to the moratorium on the commercial release of Bt Brinjal.

The majority of the scientists present in the meeting opined that there was no need to carry out any further tests since the safety of Bt gene in brinjal has been established by the safety tests that had already been carried out and that more time must not be lost in conducting more tests and field trials. Scientists of the expert panel viewed that sufficient long-term studies have been done and in case additional tests are to be implemented, parallel testing could be conducted along with the partial release of Bt brinjal for cultivation. The expert panel will meet again next month before arriving at the final recommendation.

In October 2009, India's GEAC declared Bt brinjal safe and recommended its commercial approval to the environment minister Mr. Jairam Ramesh who subsequently imposed a moratorium on commercial release on Bt brinjal in February 2010. Since then, national and international literature has been generated on the safety of GM food crops and six top science academies of India endorsed the safety of Bt brinjal and recommended its commercial approval in the "Inter-Academy Report on GM Crops" release in Sept 2010.

Important documents on Bt brinjal:

  1. GEAC decision on Bt brinjal, Oct 2009
    http://moef.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/decision-oct-97.pdf
  2. Report of the Expert Committee (EC-II) on Bt brinjal Event EE-1, Oct 2009 http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/Report%20on%20Bt%20brinjal.pdf
  3. Environment minister decision on Bt brinjal, Feb 2010
    http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/minister_REPORT.pdf
  4. Inter-academy report on GM crops (Bt brinjal), Sept 2010
    http://insaindia.org/pdf/Updated%20Inter%20Academy%20Report%20on%20GM%20crops.pdf  
  5. The development & regulation of Bt brinjal in India; Jan 2009 http://isaaa.org/resources/publications/briefs/38/download/isaaa-brief-38-2009.pdf