I / London February 12, 2010, 13:04 IST
The Indian Government has sent a "wrong signal" to the industry by putting on hold commercial cultivation of genetically modified brinjal, Biocon India Chairman Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw has said.
"This is a very wrong signal Government has sent to the industry," Shaw told reporters here.
On February 9, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced a moratorium on the release of Bt brinjal till such time independent scientific studies establish the safety of the product on impact on human health.
Bt Brinjal is a genetically-modified vegetable which is infused with Cry1Ac gene from a bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis to make the plant resistant to the fruit and shoot borers and certain pests.
Some scientists and NGOs have been opposing it, arguing that the genes were toxic and would affect the health of the consumers. Some states, including Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh, were also opposed to the move.
Shaw said same fears were expressed when Bt cotton was introduced and today "India is the 2nd largest BT cotton producer in the world."
She said companies have engaged in research for years and established their efficacy before coming out with its products and it was unfortunate that the Government yielded to pressures from some NGOs.
There should have been a discussion at scientific level, she added.
"I don't blame the government but if Government and politicians start siding with NGOs, there will be no creative work," she said, adding "it is not true that trials were not done properly."
The government's Genetic Engineering Approval committee had cleared Bt Brinjal for commercial release in October last claiming that it would result in lower usage of pesticides and higher yields.
Asked about her expectation from the General Budget, Shaw hoped that the government would focus on better tax incentives for encouraging investment in R&D and reduce import duty for R&D units.