BT brinjal opens new avenues for farmers and consumers

The landmark decision of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, on October 14 to allow the release of BT Brinjal has been viewed by some as the government's commitment to opening doors to new technologies, while others are viewing it with suspicion and call it a hasty decision.

The success of BT cotton, where within seven years, over 80% of the farmers have adopted the technology gives confidence about the BT technology, raising farmers' expectations. However, one must keep in mind that cotton is a non-food crop and thus has concerns related only to environmental safety. BT brinjal, being a food crop, has to be adequately tested for food safety in addition to environmental safety. There is an ongoing debate about whether it should be labelled, thus giving consumers the choice to make their own decisions.

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