It is probably late to comment on the press statement issued by Raju Barwale, Managing Director of the Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (Mahyco), the developers of the Bt brinjal. Pardon me, since I do not read the propaganda sites of either Mahyco or Monsanto (and the tribe) I had missed this. Someone had very kindly sent it to me a few days back, and I couldn't resist the temptation to comment on it.
This media statement, pasted below, is dated Oct 14, the day the environment clearance for India's first poisonous GM food crop came. Interestingly, Raju Barwale, in the press release says that "Mahyco is awaiting the decision of the GEAC for environment-release of the insect resistant Bt cotton." Well, Mr Barwale, you didn't have to wait for long. The GEAC had the same day rubber stamped the report that many believe was written by one of your consultants in Hyderabad. You certainly couldn't have expected anything better from a committee which is known to be notoriously anti-environment and anti-people.
The report of the EC-II is a sham. It is a scientific scandal.
You say that 25 biosafety tests were rigorously conducted. If that is true, I don't know why Dr Pushpa Bhargava, the Supreme Court's nominee, is still not convinced about the biosafety testing. Do you think that he does not know his science? And what about the scandalous manner in which the EC-II had simply brushed aside the objections raised by independent scientists, NGOs and others?
I am not drawing any indirect inference, but I hope you have read the news report that says Monsanto, your partner, had lied about the safety of its weed killing herbicide Roundup Ready in France. Reports say that the decision came just days ago and confirms an earlier court judgment in France finding that Monsanto had falsely advertised Roundup as being "biodegradable" and that it "left the soil clean." The company has been fined 15,000 Euros. If you missed reading this, click on the the link to this BBC report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8...
Anyway, coming back, do you think we in India don't know our science? Do you think the nation does not have the capability to question the veracity of the so called scientific claims that your company has made? If GEAC is comprising vested interest and is stuffed with scientists who are known in scientific circles as " son-in-law " of the Department of Biotechnology (since most of them receive funding from the DBT/ICAR/ICMR for their research projects), it does not mean that we have to accept their flawed analysis.
I am throwing a challenge to you, Mr Raju Barwale. Come, let us have a public debate on the veracity of your scientific claims. You and me, anywhere you desire. Let us openly debate, and let the nation then decide.
Meanwhile, pasted below is the press release (from Mahyco's website) for those who missed seeing it:
Bt Brinjal - Media Statement
Mahyco is awaiting the decision of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) for environmental release of insect-resistant Bt brinjal. We look forward to a positive decision because it will help millions of our brinjal farmers who have been suffering from the havoc caused by the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (BFSB). Bt brinjal will help them tackle this pest in an environment-friendly manner and increase yields and farm income.
Insect-resistant Bt brinjal has been in development for nine years. It has been tested in full compliance with the guidelines and directives of the regulatory authorities to ensure its safety. It is the most rigorously tested vegetable with 25 environmental biosafety studies supervised by independent and government agencies. It has the same nutritional value and is compositionally identical to non Bt brinjal, except for the additional Bt protein which is specific in its action against the BFSB.
We believe in the soundness of the scientific basis of the regulatory system and the various studies and field trials carried out by various national research institutions, agricultural universities, etc., and in the future of this technology. Mahyco respects the decision of the GEAC and will provide any clarifications asked for. We are confident that we will be able to satisfy the GEAC about the safety of this technology for the environment and consumers, its usefulness to increase yields and farm income for brinjal farmers, and its beneficial impact on the environment and farm labour.
14th October, 2009