Mahyco-Monsanto, pre-empted by CSA-India's briefing paper, seeks approval for Bt brinjal trials Print E-mail
 Thursday June 8, 2006

Monsanto applies for GEAC’s approval

But read: CSA-India's Briefing Paper on Bt Brinjal

Hyderabad, June 7: Bt technology leader Mahyco-Monsanto has applied to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee for permission to conduct largescale field trials for Bt brinjal. According to official sources, representatives of Mahyco Monsanto had made presentations to the GEAC on May 22. In an unpublicised action, GEAC put up the proposal on its website for objections and suggestions from the general public. The 15-day deadline for feedback ended on Wednesday.

The GEAC would examine Monsanto’s case against public feedback in its next meeting and take a decision on field trials. If it is given permission, Bt brinjal would be the first genetically modified vegetable crop to be tested in farmers’ fields on a large scale. This is the first step before it is given permission for commercial marketing. The largescale trials means that the company takes up cultivation of Bt brinjal in the areas of more than an acre in each field. Otherwise, it would have to confine its trials to one or two guntas.

Centre for Sustainable Agriculture which has been fighting against the GM crops, has raised serious objections to the manner in which the Monsanto’s presentations were put up for public hearing. CSA scientist K. Kavitha told this correspondent that the material clearly showed that no meaningful, independent and scientific review was possible on Monsanto’s claims since no protocols were described for the tests and no tables and numbers provided.

“It is unfortunate that the GEAC makes its decisions based on claims without scientific inputs. This is despite the fact that the GEAC has scientific experts from the ICAR, ICMR and DBT,” she said. She expressed surprise over the GEAC’s decision to give just 15 days for public feedback. She said Monsanto had followed similar tactics in 2001 while introducing Bt cotton. Largescale irregularities had occurred in the field trials, resulting in contamination of seeds. “Since this is a vegetable crop, it will have serious repercussions on the health of the consumers. All these issues have to be taken into consideration, before giving permission to Monsanto,” she said.