Days after two laboratories confirmed illegal Bt brinjal (genetically modified eggplant) cultivation in the Indian state of Haryana, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan has received a legal notice on the government's failure to curb commercial farming of the genetically modified eggplants.
The notice –sent by Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan– comes in the wake of two sets of independent tests confirming presence of genetically engineered Bt brinjal in the fields of at least one farmer in the Fatehabad district of Haryana.
The genetically modified brinjal, developed by Mahyco, has a chequered history in India. In 2009, its commercial release was approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee under the environment ministry, but then Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh stopped its release in February 2010 and put an indefinite moratorium.
Three years later, four varieties of Bangladeshi Bt brinjal, developed by the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute in collaboration with Mahyco, was approved by the neighbouring country for commercial release.