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Illegal Bt brinjal farming in Haryana, allege activists

Thursday - April 25, 2019 8:44 pm , Category : BUSINESS
New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) Illegal cultivation of Bt brinjal has been found in some parts of Haryana, the Coalition for a GM-Free India alleged on Thursday, citing tests it conducted on suspected genetically modified brinjals collected from two farms in the state's Sirsa and Fatehabad districts.
Representatives of the coalition held a press conference here demanding action against the people behind the supply of Bt brinjal seeds and saplings to farmers.
They conducted "strip tests" during the conference to prove that the collected samples from Haryana were actually genetically modified.
Rajinder Chaudhary of Kudrati Kheti Abhiyan said the said samples have been sent to a private testing laboratory for further confirmation.
"We got to know about the Bt brinjal farming through our contacts last week. When we visited those farms and made inquiries, we were told by farmers that saplings were provided to them through unknown sources," he said.
Kapil Shah of Jatan Trust said complaints have been filed with the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) of the Union Environment Ministry, and the Departments of Agriculture and Horticulture in Haryana.
"We also have sent the samples to the GEAC. While there have been no word from the GEAC as yet, the Haryana government has promised to look into the matter."
Bt brinjal has been developed by Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech.
Sridhar Radhakrishnan of NGO Thanal said that the country cannot afford to allow Bt brinjal cultivation to continue or spread when the Central government has placed indefinite moratorium of its commercial release since February 2010.
"It is clear that this bio-hazard has to be contained and destroyed, and GEAC cannot allow citizens to be exposed to the health and environmental hazards of Bt brinjal," he said.
Shah asked if the regulatory authorities were capable of checking the use of Bt brinjal seeds.
"Cultivation of Herbicide tolerant (Ht) soybean was found in Gujarat a few years ago. Subsequently, complaints were filed. However, we do not know what happened after that. What are regulatory authorities doing?" he said.
These activists demanded "criminal proceedings" be initiated against the responsible for the distribution of GM seeds.

--IANS spk/vd