Bt Brinjal Controversy Case Study

            

Genetically Modified Crops in India: The Bt Brinjal Controversy




Abstract

This case discusses the introduction of Bt brinjal in India in the backdrop of the controversy surrounding genetically modified (GM) crops in India. Monsanto Holdings P Ltd, a US based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation that promoted GM crops in India through Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (a 50:50 joint venture between Monsanto and Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company) found itself in the center of this debate.

India, as a party to the Convention on Biodiversity and having ratified the Cartagena Protocol (CP) is committed to the safe handling of living modified organisms (LMOs) or GMOs. CP provides a broad framework on biosafety especially focusing on transboundary movements of GMOs and also covers seeds that are meant for intentional release into the environment, as well as those GMOs that are intended for food, feed or used in food processing. ....

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Issues

The case is structured to achieve the following teaching objectives:

  • Analyze the business environment for GM crops in India.
  • Study the regulatory environment pertaining to GM crops in India.
  • Understand the Biosafety protocol and its necessity and relevance to developing countries like India.
  • Understand biosafety governance in India: its accuracy and lacunae
  • Discuss the role of activists and researchers in influencing policies

Keywords

Business environment, Regulatory environment, Sustainable development, Biodiversity, Public policy, Genetically modified crops, Biosafety, Cartagena protocol, Genetic engineering, Biotechnology, Agriculture, Monsanto, Mahyco-Monsanto, Bt cotton, Bt brinjal,Monsanto Holdings,Agricultural biotechnology,Biosafety,Hybrid Seeds,Cartagena Protocol,transgenic crop,sizeable population,Green Revolution, mono cropping,Biosafety,

Introduction - Next Page>>

 

n October 2009, the Indian biotechnology regulator, Genetic Engineering Approval Committee which is an ad hoc 30-member committee comprising mainly bureaucrats and scientists, gave its approval for introduction of Bt brinjal, the first genetically modified food crop to be allowed in India.

In a GM product, the genetic material is altered to benefit the consumer and producer, as it is pest-resistant and promises to offer a higher yield.

Environmental activists have over the years questioned the bio-safety of these products and pointed out that this is a form 'bio-terror' that should be curbed at all costs.

Brinjal has been in India for over 4,000 years. It accounts for half a million hectares of land in India with an output of 8.4 million tonne.

If the GEAC decision if approved by the government, it would also lead to other GM food crops, like rice, maize, soyabean, etc in the country.

Professor P M Bhargava, GEAC's only independent expert, appointed by the Supreme Court said that a majority of the necessary biosafety tests were skipped before the clearance was given.

Meanwhile, the European Union has followed strict norms and countries in the European Union have banned the genetically modified food crops.

Meanwhile, Mahyco said this will help millions of brinjal farmers who have been suffering from the havoc caused by the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (BFSB). Bt brinjal will help them tackle this pest in an environment-friendly manner and increase yields and farm income. Click NEXT to read on further. . .


Image: A masked Greenpeace activist shows a sign during a demonstration in New Delhi.
Photographs: JSG/CC/Reuters

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