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Controversy continues over Bt brinjal approval

Nov 30, 2009 04:16 PM IST India India

New Delhi: The controversy over granting approval to Bt brinjal is set to deepen. Questions are being asked about the composition and functioning of the 16 member expert committee that granted approval to Bt brinjal.

Chairperson of the Committee Prof Arjula Reddy was reportedly “tremendous pressure” to clear Bt brinjal and had calls from Agricultural Minister, Genetic Engineer Approval Committee (GEAC) and industry.

This is what the Supreme Court observer to the committee Dr Pushpa Bhargava said in his letter to the GEAC and Jairam Ramesh.

RCGM, Department of Biotech Dr KK Tripathy is reportedly under investigation by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for alleged abuse of power to promote interests of certain companies.

Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR) director Dr Mathura Rai is charged because he allegedly led the large scale trials of Bt brinjal and later joined the committee to review his own findings.

Similar is the case with PD, NRCPB Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) Dr Mathura Rai. He was reportedly a Bt brinjal developer and later joined the committee to review it.

Representatives of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Dr Dhir Singh and Dr SB Dongre have been charged because they functioned primarily as observers and did not raise any health related questions.

CNN-IBN spoke with Prof Arujla Reddy about the ongoing controversy.

Here is a transcript of the interview -

CNN-IBN: Sir, were you under pressure. Did you get calls from the Agricultural Ministry, the GEAC and industry because you were heading a very powerful committee?

Prof Arujla Reddy: You think it is a powerful committee, I don’t think so. I know you want to nail down the question but being a Government servant I can’t answer to this.

CNN-IBN: Was the expert committee was loaded with vested interest?

Prof Arujla Reddy: How can I say that. The committee consists of all kinds of people nominated by expert panel and constituted by the Government.

This is not the first time that questions have been raised about the committee. Pusha Bhargava has been clearly unhappy with the manner in which the approval was granted to Bt brinjal.

However, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has assured Parliament that all concerns would be addressed before granting commercial approval to Bt brinjal.

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