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BIODIVERSITY: India Bans Farming of GM Aubergine - IPS ipsnews.net
NEW DELHI, Feb 9, 2010 (IPS) - After India's Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced Tuesday a ban on the cultivation of Bt brinjal, the country's first genetically modified (GM) food crop, food security experts and activists said this major farming country has been saved from a biodiversity disaster.

"This is a historic decision. The minister deserves to be congratulated, given that he was under enormous pressure to give approval for Bt brinjal, especially after the country's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) cleared it," leading food security specialist Devinder Sharma told IPS.

Had Bt brinjal - more widely known as eggplant or aubergine - been cleared in India, it would have opened the floodgates to a technology that is regarded with huge suspicion around the world, Sharma said. "Countries like the Philippines and Bangladesh were waiting to see which way India would go on this."

Sharma said Ramesh's decision had several implications, starting with the credibility of the GEAC which had earlier approved the cultivation of genetically modified Bt cotton. Both Bt cotton and Bt brinjal carry a gene taken from a bacterium, bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), that is toxic to pests and supposedly saves on pesticides.

The introduction of Bt brinjal has not been as smooth as that of Bt cotton and the public outcry that followed GEAC's approval of Bt brinjal on Oct. 14, 2009 was so fierce that Ramesh was compelled to announce the holding of public hearings before final clearance.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 13th, 2010 at 12:15:56 PM EST
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