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Bt Brinjal: Jairam Ramesh denies NGO pressure

KOCHI: Union Minister Jairam Ramesh today said no NGO influenced his decision to put a moratorium on Bt Brinjal, a statement that comes against the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ra

Published: 25th February 2012 05:31 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:02 PM   |  A+A-

jairamramesh

File photo: PTI

KOCHI: Union Minister Jairam Ramesh today said no NGO influenced his decision to put a moratorium on Bt Brinjal, a statement that comes against the backdrop of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh raising questions about the role of foreign funded NGOs in blocking use of genetic engineering.

"Green Peace a foreign funded NGO accused me of propagating the line of Monsanto during a public hearing in Bangalore. So on Bt Brinjal, since I was directly involved, I can confidently say no NGOs influenced my views," Ramesh, who is on a three-day Kerala visit, told reporters here.

He said his position on Bt Brinjal was determined by the positions of state governments, the lack of consensus among the scientific community, the fact that the tests were not completed and there was no independent professional mechanism which will instill confidence in the public.

"I did not ban Bt Brinjal. I decided lets put moratorium.

Lets fulfil all these four conditions and then revisit the whole issue," he said.

His remarks came in response to a question about allegations that some NGOs based in Scandinavian countries funded the protests against Bt Brinjal.

His remarks also came against the backdrop of Prime Minister's comments that some NGOs based in the United States and Scandinavian countries were not "fully appreciative" of the development challenges India faces.

Ramesh said as Environment Minister he enforced the moratorium on Bt Brinjal on February nine, 2010 after going through a seven-month process of public consultation.

Ramesh said consultations were held with scientists, NGOs, civil society organisations and farmer organisations in which around 8,000 people participated.

"I wrote to all Chief Ministers, I wrote to 50 scientists across the world. Firstly, states opposed Bt Brinjal.

Secondly, there was no scientific consensus on the need for Bt Brinjal why Bt brinjal and in fact Father of Green Revolution M S Swaminathan himself had raised questions on where we were going," he said.

He said Chief Ministers like Nitish Kumar (Bihar), Naveen Patnaik (Odisha), Narendra Modi (Gujarat), Shivraj Singh Chauhan (Madhya Pradesh) and B S Yedddyrupaa (Karnataka) have then raised questions about Bt Brinjal.

"I cannot ignore states. Ultimately in agriculture, we have to take states along with us," he said.

"No state was with us on Bbt brinjal. Modi who is a great champion of Bt Cotton was not with us on Bt Brinjal. That is a very important distinction. But cotton does not have a same time of safety risk on humans as Bt Brinjal," he said.



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