C. Kameswara Rao, Executive Secretary of the Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education in Bangalore, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about the decision by Indian government officials to impose a moratorium on genetically modified Brinjal (eggplant).
Rao believes this decision by the Indian government is not based on science. He writes that genetically modified crops, including Bt Brinjal, have been thoroughly tested and evaluated. In fact, “about 200 scientists and experts from over 15 public and private-sector institutions” participated in the agronomic and biosecurity evaluation of Bt brinjal from 2000-2009. The group found the crop safe for food and feed use and approved Bt Brinjal for commercialization in October, 2009.
Rao argues that this decision by the Indian government disproportionately hurts Indian farmers, and echoes the sentiments of Rajesh Kumar, an Indian farmer who recently published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal criticizing the government’s decision to restrict biotech crop use. Farmers in India lose between “50-70 percent of their annual marketable eggplant yield to two insects” every year. Through an advanced gene Bt Brinjal can withstand the pests and farmers can produce more yields. The same gene has been inserted successfully into several other biotech crops such as cotton, corn and potatoes.
Despite the proven success of these biotech crops and the relief they can bring by increasing food yields, he believes the Indian government reacted to misleading claims about biotech crops when issuing this decision. Rao believes that this rejection of science will only hinder India’s progress and delay the commercialization of a crop that could benefit millions.