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Scientists’ panel discusses Minister’s U-turn over Bt Brinjal

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: In its first meeting after the Bt brinjal moratorium, the Genetic Engineering Approvals Committee reviewed the Environment Ministry’s decision, which overturned its own recommendation in favour of the transgenic vegetable.

According to some members, the entire meeting on Wednesday was spent discussing the fall-out of Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh’s statement last week. One scientist said several members were asking “whether the GEAC has any meaning or not” in the wake of the Minister’s statement reducing it to an “appraisal” committee, and throwing doubts on its procedures.

No decisions were taken on any future reforms of the GEAC. The Minister had suggested that further testing processes be included, after a chorus of protest from some scientists, farmers groups, consumer organisations and civil society activists had led to the GEAC’s recommendation for Bt brinjal being overturned.

“Nothing of any consequence [about changes] was discussed today,” said the scientist. “As a GEAC member, I know nothing is stuck in cement. If we have to change, we can change. But the gaps between what scientists say and non-scientists say cannot be bridged by changes in procedure alone,” he added.

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