The BJP government in Uttarakhand has banned the controversial genetically modified (GM) food Bt brinjal, becoming the first state in the country to do so.
"Keeping in view the sensitive nature of Uttarakhand and its diversities, which have to be protected, we have to remain watchful against crops like Bt brinjal. We have decided to ban the farming of Bt brinjal in the state," Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank said in a statement in Dehradun on Friday.
Several states including West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Kerala have opposed the introduction of Bt brinjal.
The Uttarakhand government’s decision comes before the central government holds the last of its seven public consultations on the controversial crop in Bangalore on Saturday.
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is expected to announce the Centre’s decision on allowing commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal after February 10.
Opponents of the GM food fear that it has been tested only on animals so far — and the results have not been positive.
A section of scientists in India and abroad have said that a pesticide in the genetically modified brinjal could pose serious threats to human health. They have said consumption of such brinjals could lead to cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
US multinational Monsanto, which is seeking to market Bt brinjal seeds in collaboration with Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), has however maintained that the modified vegetable poses no threat to humans.
Agricultural activists have opposed its introduction on the ground that Bt brinjals would monopolise the market and wipe out small farmers who cultivate it.