Representational image | Photo: Christinne Muschi | Bloomberg
Text Size:

New Delhi: A panel appointed by the Haryana government to look into a case of genetically modified brinjals making their way to the vegetable markets of northern India has recommended to the Modi government that it investigate the incident through central agencies.

The committee — chaired by Haryana Chief Secretary Depinder Singh Dhesi — made the recommendation in a meeting on 14 May held at Haryana Agriculture University (HAU), Hisar.

It came a couple of weeks after the case surfaced, when a farm activist conducted tests to report the Bt gene in brinjals available in the market. Bt crop is illegal for production in India.

During the meeting, the panel analysed the report submitted by the New Delhi-based National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, confirming that Bt brinjals did make it to the market.

“The act of growing and selling Bt brinjal was found to be a violation as per the rules of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests,” Ranbir Singh, joint director of horticulture department, Haryana, told ThePrint. He was present at the meeting.

“The section 7(1) of rules — manufacture, use, import, export and storage of hazardous microorganisms genetically engineered organisms or cells rules, 1989 — clearly says that selling the Bt brinjals was a violation,” said Singh.

The panel further suggested to the union government to decide the future course of action.

We are deeply grateful to our readers & viewers for their time, trust and subscriptions.

Quality journalism is expensive and needs readers to pay for it. Your support will define our work and ThePrint’s future.


“The committee has decided that the environment and health are national issues and the matter should further be investigated only by the central agencies,” he added.

The members of the panel included Pushpa Kharb, head of department of biotechnology, and Anil Kumar, HOD, plant pathology, at HAU. The committee also had representations from the office of state bacteriologists in Haryana.

Also read: This worm army is marching across India and destroying everything in its path

Bt crop ‘destroyed’

Haryana’s horticulture department has allayed fears of widespread contamination of crop among the vegetable markets, ThePrint reported last week. It has ruled out the possibility of an ‘extensive spread’, saying the brinjals came from just one farm.

However, Singh claimed that the Haryana government destroyed the entire Bt crop found in the farm in question in Ratia village of Fatehabad district in the state.

“We have established that the act of selling the crop was a violation and hence, the plant has been uprooted and deeply buried,” said Singh.

In a show of evidence, the department has clicked pictures of officials uprooting and burying the Bt brinjal plants in Ratia.

Bt brinjal contamination controversy

Earlier this month, whistleblower Rajinder Chaudhary, a farm activist with Kudrati Kheti Abhiyaan, conducted a preliminary test showing a Bt positive gene in brinjal.

Bt crop is genetically modified to carry a gene from a naturally-occurring, soil-borne bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

In February 2010, then minister of state for environment Jairam Ramesh had overruled the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), which had approved commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal — the first crop genetically modified for mass production in India — on 14 October 2009.

The contamination incident in Haryana has been termed “the most serious breach of India’s biosafety, brinjal biodiversity, and therefore, bio-security” by environmentalist Aruna Rodrigues, the lead petitioner in a PIL filed in the Supreme Court against GM crops.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan has also sent a legal notice to Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan about this case.

However, top scientists and geneticists like Deepak Pental and G. Padmanabhan expect the government to legalise the crop as its consumption is absolutely safe and it gives farmers the chances of boosting their income by increasing the production.

Also read: These Maharashtra drought-hit farmers don’t need banks & loans. They’re funding each other


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

News media is in a crisis & only you can fix it

You are reading this because you value good, intelligent and objective journalism. We thank you for your time and your trust.

You also know that the news media is facing an unprecedented crisis. It is likely that you are also hearing of the brutal layoffs and pay-cuts hitting the industry. There are many reasons why the media’s economics is broken. But a big one is that good people are not yet paying enough for good journalism.

We have a newsroom filled with talented young reporters. We also have the country’s most robust editing and fact-checking team, finest news photographers and video professionals. We are building India’s most ambitious and energetic news platform. And we aren’t even three yet.

At ThePrint, we invest in quality journalists. We pay them fairly and on time even in this difficult period. As you may have noticed, we do not flinch from spending whatever it takes to make sure our reporters reach where the story is. Our stellar coronavirus coverage is a good example. You can check some of it here.

This comes with a sizable cost. For us to continue bringing quality journalism, we need readers like you to pay for it. Because the advertising market is broken too.

If you think we deserve your support, do join us in this endeavour to strengthen fair, free, courageous, and questioning journalism, please click on the link below. Your support will define our journalism, and ThePrint’s future. It will take just a few seconds of your time.

Support Our Journalism

Share Your Views


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here