Bt Brinjal

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National Consultations on

Bt Brinjal
A primer on concerns, issues and prospects

National Consultations on

Bt Brinjal
A primer on concerns, issues and prospects

1. Introduction 2. Brinjals in India 3. Genetically Modified Crops and the Brinjal 4. Bt Brinjal: Prospects and Concerns 5. Glossary 6. References 1 3 5 13 19 20

Disclaimer: This booklet has been compiled by the Centre for Environment Education (CEE) as a primer for discussants at the national consultations and does not in any way express the views of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India or of the Centre for Environment Education.

What is Bt Brinjal?
Bt Brinjal is a transgenic brinjal created by inserting a gene cry1Ac from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into Brinjal. This is said to give the Brinjal plant resistance against lepidopteran insects like the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer Leucinodes orbonalis and Fruit Borer Helicoverpa armigera.

What is the controversy about?
Bt Brinjal has generated much debate in India. The promoters say that Bt Brinjal will be beneficial to small farmers because it is insect resistant, increases yields, is more cost-effective and will have minimal environmental impact. On the other hand, concerns about Bt Brinjal relate to its possible adverse impact on human health and bio-safety, livelihoods and biodiversity.

What is the official response to the controversy?
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has a statutory body called the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) which has recommended the environmental release of Bt Brinjal in India based on the recommendations of the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM), a statutory body and two expert committees constituted by the GEAC between 2006 and 2009. However the Minister of State (I/C) for Environment and Forests, responding to strong views raised both for and against the introduction of the Bt Brinjal, has called for public consultations across the country before taking a final decision on this issue. The Centre for Environment Education, an autonomous organization engaged in Environmental and Sustainability Education, has been entrusted with the task of organizing these consultations.


What are the objectives of the national consultations on Bt Brinjal? The main objectives of the consultation are to
l Provide a forum to various stakeholders to express their

views and concerns related to Bt Brinjal at venues across the country; l Provide appropriate inputs to the Minister before a final decision is taken.

How are the consultations being structured?
The consultations are planned at seven locations in the country, so that people across the country can be heard. These consultations will be open to all members of the public. Additionally, stakeholder groups representing diverse viewpoints on the issue will be invited to the consultations to ensure the widest possible participation in the discussions. The consultations will be conducted in the local language of the area in addition to Hindi and English to secure the active participation of all stakeholders. At least 250 representatives from a range of groups such as farmers, scientists, agricultural experts, farmers organizations, consumer groups, citizens forums, NGOs/CBOs, Government officials, media, seed suppliers, traders, doctors, lawyers and others will be invited to each consultation. Advertisements will be placed in the local media before the event to ensure that the public is fully informed about the event. The Minister of State (MoS) MoEF Mr. Jairam Ramesh will chair the consultations at all locations.


The Brinjal in India
Why is the brinjal important to India?
The brinjal Solanum melongena is said to have originated in India and is known to have been cultivated for over 4000 years. Second only to the potato in terms of the total quantity produced, the brinjal continues to be an...
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