SJM national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan. (File Photo)
SJM national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan. (File Photo)

Swadeshi Jagran Manch writes to PM requesting halt to field trials of genetically modified brinjal

ANI | Updated: Sep 14, 2020 23:28 IST

New Delhi [India], September 14 (ANI): After the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change allowed the field trials for Bt brinjal, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) on Monday, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to halt the trials of the genetically modified (GM) crop at earliest, saying that they are against the national interest.
As per the letter written by Dr Ashwani Mahajan, National Co-Convenor of SJM, the Ministry in their last meeting of Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) have "allowed the penultimate stage of field trials called BRL II trials for Bt brinjal Event 142", and have asked, "six states to make way for trails of this controversial technology".
In the letter, Mahajan said, "These clearances have been given mischievously to defeat the Atamnirbhar Abhiyan or Self Reliance campaign initiated by you to cut down dependence on the foreign players, but also to evolve world-class eco-system to develop cutting edge products, for domestic consumption and also for exports."
He said the Bt brinjal seems to have moved forward in the regulatory pipeline basically because of a deep conflict of interest that some regulators had.

"For instance, both the GM event developer and biosafety testing person, who used to head National Institute of Nutrition which did the toxicity testing of this Bt brinjal, who is also associated with industry lobby bodies, were regulators when all the initial permissions were given to this new Bt brinjal," said Mahajan.
He further said that concerns were expressed by several other regulators about the results of the toxicity tests on this Bt brinjal, but these were brushed aside to push this Bt brinjal to the next stage.
Mahajan said the pest management in brinjal is possible without the use of Bt or synthetic pesticides and scientific evidence exists of the same and added that there is no shortage of brinjal, neither in quality nor in quantity in the country.
"There is no point in taking this uncalculated risk. Moreover, the experience in 18 years of BT Cotton helps us understand that the MNCs (multinational corporation) dealing in the GM crops coax seed companies and farmers to buy their seed, instead of developing their own variant. With this, these MNCs not only monopolise the market, but dictate the price," he said.
He added that non-GM produce is a niche, safe produce that the world prefers to even pay a premium for in global markets, and India right now has that advantage. (ANI)