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Final Decision On Bt Brinjal By Feb 10: Jairam Ramesh

PTI 31 Jan 2010, 21:43:00 IST

Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Sunday a final decision over allowing commercial introduction of Bt brinjal in the country would be taken in 10 days, as he faced more protests over the controversial move.  As his national consultations entered the last lap, Ramesh was gheraoed in Hyderabad by people opposing the commercialisation of the Genetically Modified food crop.

The protesters from Left-affiliated farmers' outfits and Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) raised slogans like "Bt Go Back" and mobbed the minister on the dais at an event organised at the Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA). Those supporting Bt brinjal also raised slogans in support of their demand resulting in chaos.

Six public hearings were held at various cities across the country so far and the seventh and last is scheduled to be held in Bangalore on February 6. A final decision would be taken on the issue by February 10, he told reporters after the meeting. The consultations began in Kolkata early this month and the first public meet was rocked by protests.

Asserting that he is not under any pressure from anybody, including Prime Minister's office or any company, the minister said that a fair decision would be taken on the issue.

"Most chief ministers want us to go slowly. They don't want us to take a hasty decision and they want us to conduct more studies, more tests. Rightly so, perhaps they feel that Bt brinjal is something that we eat everyday while Bt cotton is an industrial commodity," he said.

The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) had last year given the go ahead for commercialisation of Bt brinjal but has faced stiff resistance from consumer groups and NGOs.