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Bhargava slams move to adopt GM crops
Saturday, 09 January, 2010, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Our Bureau, Mumbai
Even as Environment minister Jairam Ramesh is scheduled to begin consultations on the safety and feasibility of approving genetically modified (GM) brinjal, or Bt brinjal, on January 13, Dr P M Bhargava, top scientist, has cautioned against its adoption. If India adopts genetically engineered food crops, there are chances that the country will lose out on the potential export market worth Rs 100,000 crore for its fruits and vegetables, according to Bhargava.

Commenting on the safety of Bt brinjal, he said the technology was a credible one, but it should be tested and verified before introducing it in the plates of the consumers. “Around 8 tests that should be conducted before the safety of Bt brinjal can be gauged were not conducted by the Genetically Engineered Approval Committee (GEAC), he said.

“Around 84% of the GM consumption happens in four countries — the US, Brazil, Argentina and Canada. Several countries including 90% of the European Union have banned the import of GM crops,” Dr Bhargava, founder and director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, said. The 10-year decline of American citizen’s health as mentioned by US President Barack Obama and increase in consumption of Bt products might have correlation, he said.

Despite pressures from the US to repeal the GM labeling law, the Europeans are continuing with it, due to the presence of widespread consumer awareness. India, on the other hand, has no such law and a consumer will not know whether the vegetable he is eating is Bt or not, according to him.
 
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