Fresh controversy surrounds India’s Bt Brinjal after six premier Indian science academies declared it safe and advocated its ‘limited release’ last week. Though they added a corollary that genetically modified crops pose a risk if the science behind them is flawed, that hasn’t done much to douse the rage of the anti-GM lobby in the country.
And most importantly India’s vocal environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who had sought the report from the academies in the first place. Ramesh has lost no time in rubbishing the report on grounds that it lacks ‘scientific rigour’. The report does not have a single citation or reference and there’s no way to know how the authors reached their conclusions, he has been quoted as saying.
Then came the plagiarism charges — the proverbial last nail. And added discredit when one of the co-authors National Academy of Medical Sciences distanced itself from the report. The academies have, thereafter, taken responsibility of the plagiarism charge and promised a re-examination of the report.
India’s first GM crop faced a roadblock prior to its launch last February on safety issues. And it doesn’t seem like the humble vegetable will have a smooth ride in the country sometime soon. The moratorium continues.