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India quashes GM aubergine plan

09-Feb-2010

India has put off the commercial cultivation of a GM aubergine due to safety concerns, despite getting the go-ahead from government scientists last year.

BT Brinjal was developed by Indian seed company Mahyco, a partner of Monsanto. More resistant to natural pests than regular aubergines, it would have been the world’s first GM vegetable.

But according to the BBC, the decision not to plough ahead with cultivation was taken by environment minister Jairam Ramesh, who said more studies are needed to be sure it is safe for both humans and the environment.

The question has divided public opinion in India, which cultivates some 2000 different varieties of aubergine. Anti-GM protestors taking to the streets dressed in aubergine suits.

Dr PM Salimath, director of research at the University of Agriculture Sciences in Dharwad in Karnataka state, who led the field trials, insists there is no danger, He argues that the same gene, Cry1Ac, has been used in corn, canola and soya for the past decade.

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