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[genet-news] APPROVAL & FOOD: Different timelines on Bt Brinjal commercialisation in India



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:  BT BRINJAL LAUNCH LIKELY TO BE DELAYED

SOURCE: Financial Chronicle, India

AUTHOR: 

URL:    http://www.mydigitalfc.com/companies/bt-brinjal-launch-likely-be-delayed-997

DATE:   16.04.2009

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BT BRINJAL LAUNCH LIKELY TO BE DELAYED

The reporter?s trip was sponsored by Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II South Asia, funded by USAID

Commercial launch of the country?s first transgenic food crop ? Bt Brinjal ? might take much longer than expected with the government still awaiting the required data for analysis. Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) had planned to launch Bt Brinjal by 2009-end.

Bt brinjal has been embroiled in several controversies in the past three years over health-related issues. Mahyco is the first private firm in India to produce and market hybrids of cotton, sorghum, pearl millet, sunflower and wheat. It was also the first Indian firm to commercially grow and market transgenic Bollgard cotton (Bt cotton), India?s first transgenic crop in 2002, which was introduced after much controversy.

Bharat R Char, head of biotechnology research at Mahyco, said at a workshop that the company expected a final approval by year end. He said application for commercial release of Bt brinjal seeds to genetic engineering approval committee (GEAC) has been completed, though a committee member said it would take more time.

Ranjini Warrier, member secretary of GEAC, said in New Delhi, ?It might take one more year to introduce the crop. A lot of data still needs to be collected because trials have, so far, been conducted in confined environment.? He said the government would form a committee in the next couple of weeks, mainly to review various questions raised by NGOs, evaluate international reports on genetically modified crops and check compliance with OECD norms. The committee works under theenvironment and forest ministry.

The identified areas for growing Bt Brinjal are north Karnataka, south Maharashtra and Goa with the local varieties such

as Manjarigota, Udupigulla, Malapur local, Kudachi local, GO 112 and Rabkavi local. Many NGOs and farmer organisations have protested against Bt brinjal as they felt it was hazardous and does not reduce farmers? dependency on pesticides.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:  BT BRINJAL SEEDS IN MARKET LIKELY BY THIS YEAR

SOURCE: The Hindu, India

AUTHOR: Raktima Bose

URL:    http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/17/stories/2009041756321800.htm

DATE:   17.04.2009

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BT BRINJAL SEEDS IN MARKET LIKELY BY THIS YEAR

KOLKATA: If all goes well, markets in India will be flooded with genetically modified brinjal seeds or Bt brinjal seeds within a year. They will be more resistant to pests while retaining the nutritional value of the conventional brinjal, Usha Barwale Zehr, joint director of research of Maharashtra Hybrid seeds Company Limited (Mahyco), said here on Tuesday.

Addressing a press conference, Ms. Zehr said Bt brinjal would be the second genetically modified vegetable to be introduced after the success of Bt cotton, also launched by Mahyco in 2002. It is now awaiting the approval of the Centre?s Genetic Engineering Approval Commission (GEAC).

Though consumer groups and non-governmental organisations have expressed concern over the consumption of Bt brinjal, she said: ?We have carried out large-scale trials of the effect of the Bt brinjal on human health, animals and environment under the supervision of the Institute of Vegetable Research in Varanasi.?

?Since the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation has cleared the data, we hope to get GEAC?s approval for its commercial launch within this year,? Ms. Zehr said.

Brinjal is grown on 5,50,000 hectares in the country at the rate of 30 tonnes a hectare. Ms. Zehr said 40 to 65 per cent of the vegetables are wasted because of fruit and shoot borer insect pests. West Bengal is the largest producer of brinjal in the country with 1,64,000 hectares under cultivation. The State accounts for 30 per cent of production.

She pointed out that with Bt brinjal, farmers needed to use 70 per cent less insecticides. There would be a 116 per cent increase in marketable yield since the Bt variety will reduce the wastage percentage to between 4 and 10 per cent. Mahyco has already collaborated with three Indian agricultural universities and universities in Bangladesh and the Philippines to share the technology and develop local Bt brinjal seed varieties, suitable to the particular region?s soil and temperature which are also affordable. The company is also developing Bt varieties of other vegetables, Ms. Zehr said.


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