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For years the government has imposed a moratorium on the commercial production of Bt Brinjal, genetically-modified for resistance to the fruit and shoot borer, now a principal scientist of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, New Delhi, has made a case for its commercial approval.

Confronting the criticism surrounding the country’s first transgenic food crop, Dr Gurinderjit Randhawa said: “Bt Brinjal is safe for human consumption and should be commercialised at all costs.”

foodnetindia very strongly disagrees with Dr. Randhawa. The issue is not about perceived safety but about contamination of mainstream crops by GM variants. In a country like India, it is impossible to ensure that GM crops do not spread in the environment and contaminate other (in this case brinjal) fields. Consumers have a right to choose and not eat GM brinjal if they consider it unsafe. In India, it will become impossible to exercise this choice as mainstream crops will almost certainly get contaminated. When I buy brinjal from my sabjiwala, is he/she going to guarantee me an uncontaminated non GM brinjal? Does he or the farmer have the ability or the required control on the supply chain to do so?

India MUST NOT allow GM brinjal. That’s the foodnetindia opinion.

Randhawa agrees that these crops are controversial and it is difficult to obtain an “overwhelming” consensus in their favour. “GM crops are good but one has to be cautious,” she said. About making such crops available to consumers through farmers, she said: “After a research is presented, it undergoes lot of tests. Experts from diverse fields weigh the risks and the benefits involved before giving any crop a go-ahead.”

On the risks such problems pose to consumers, she said: “No problems are caused if the technology is used the way it is meant to be.” And we at foodnetindia ask Dr Randhawa – How will you ensure that the technology is used the way it is meant to be?

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