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Farm activists allege illegal Bt brinjal farming; approach Centre, state govt for action

twitter-logoPTI | April 25, 2019 | Updated 19:03 IST

New Delhi, Apr 25 (PTI) Farm activists on Thursday alleged that Bt brinjal, a genetically modified food crop, was being grown and sold illegally in a farm in Haryana and they demanded immediate action against it by the state and central government. "This is a definite biohazard and the government needs to contain it," said a representative of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) at a press conference here. The activists said a complaint has been sent to the central government as well as the Haryana agricultural department regarding the illegal cultivation of Bt brinjal and a reply was awaited. Rajinder Chaudhary, a farm activist working with the Kudarti Kheti Abhiyan in Haryana, said that based on a tip-off, they picked up samples from the field of a farmer in Haryana's Fatehabad area and the the crop tested positive for Bt Cry1Ac protein. Bt brinjal farming was banned in India in 2010 after it was recognised as a health and environment hazard. A sample of Bt brinjal has been sent to a private testing laboratory for further confirmation, activists said, adding that samples have also been submitted to the Director General of Horticulture and of Agriculture in Haryana government and central government's regulatory body Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) for further probe. The activists said the farmers were mere victims of the big companies which are luring them into buying the crops despite the ban. The activists demanded that the GEAC should ascertain and confirm that illegal Bt brinjal cultivation is indeed happening, and find out the full extent of such cultivation. In February 2010, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had placed a moratorium on commercial release of Bt brinjal "till such time independent scientific studies establish, to the satisfaction of both the public and professionals the safety of the product from the point of view of its long-term impact on human health and environment, including the rich genetic wealth existing in brinjal in our country". The moratorium is still in place and has not been lifted since no evidence of safety has been produced by the crop developers so far, the activists said. PTI AG AAR AAR

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