The recent no go to release of Bt Brinjal by the environment minister in India has thrown a spanner into the aspirations of proponents of genetically modified (GM) crops. The status quo defined by the indefinite moratorium is not just a breather for the environmentally conscious brethren but also an opportunity for everyone to evaluate, understand and think for oneself the long term risks and myths associated with GM crops in general and with what is in stake for an agriculture economy like India.
The big debates going on in the wake of the Bt Brinjal episode might seem like much ado about nothing to the average Indian, burdened as it is with his priority needs of food, shelter and clothing and more like hyperbole of the highest order to the social climber in the rat race.
Whatever be, there is much at stake for the discerning eye. And it is all the more important because it concerns each one of us, our day to day existence in terms of health, environment, food prices, our agrarian framework and more vitally pertinent, the future of our children.
When a food like Bt Brinjal is introduced, the regulatory mechanism has to be above suspicion – Abhijit Sen, Member, Planning Commission
With all the heat and noise raised over this issue, it is a no brainer that to take a black and white position will definitely not provide satisfactory solutions. The broader perspective needs to rein in knee jerk reactions. A conflux of factors need to be factored in – human health, fool proof testing and regulation, greater transparency in the whole process of allowing stakeholders to control seed and agrichemical production, multinational companies and their subjective business goals and the like.
The quick links that sprout below are just a pointer to the stakes involved, more as a precursor for one to think rationally on the key priority aspects that drive food security for future generations and definitely the prime drivers that have made many genetic engineering scientists ask for stringent testing rigor, threadbare technical reviews, scientific standards, credible methodologies and objective analysis as far as introduction of Bt Brinjal in India is concerned.
- Reasons for the Bt Brinjal moratorium
- Bt Brinjal: fears, myths and facts
- Bt Brinjal: The Way Forward for GM Crops in Indian Agriculture
- Sickness and death in animals exposed to Bt cotton
- GM Food Can Cause Cancer
- Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear
What the whole issues has also brought to the fore is the need for a proper reassessment of our agriculture policy, its alignment and investment vis a vis alternative biotechnologies.
Well, if the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill to be introduced in Parliament is a harbinger of things to come, all debate really seem much ado about nothing.