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February 10 has increasingly assumed significance as the anniversary of the absurd in India. It was this very day six years ago, in 2010, when all arguments based on credible scientific research data were summarily dumped by the government of India in favour of ‘popular sentiment’ lacking any scientific basis. Bt brinjal, which was to be India’s first transgenic food crop, duly tested and tried for years and concluded to have passed all biosafety and public health hazard tests by the government itself, was handed out an indefinite moratorium kowtowing to the rabble rousing of a few agenda-driven individuals and organisations. As a result, key benefits of such a crop were denied to Indian farmers already suffering from low yields, health issues and lack of agricultural infrastructure. The moratorium has now entered the seventh year.
What is even more disconcerting is the fact that, six years hence, even with a change of guard at the Centre, more or less the same environment in the country persists with respect to GM technology in general and Bt brinjal in particular, even though the current government claims to be pro-technology and pro-industry.
. . . . Our neighbour Bangladesh has allowed this crop and is today reaping the benefits of higher yields and improved health of farming communities. So, a technology developed in India and approved by the relevant authorities here is providing benefits to our neighbours, while our farmers are denied the same.
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