Activists and scientists have urged the West Bengal government to intervene and take up with the central government the issue of trans-boundary movement of Bt Brinjal – a genetically modified crop – from Bangladesh to India.
Representatives of FAMA (Forum Against Monopolistic Aggression) met West Bengal Agriculture Minister Purnendu Bose on Tuesday and submitted a memorandum highlighting concerns on the "possible smuggling of Bt Brinjal" and "fresh attempts by the central government to promote a GM food crop namely a Hybrid GM Mustard in India".
"We reminded him (Bose) of the lack of transparency at the apex regulatory agency, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), under the ministry of environment and forests and the problem of trans-boundary movement of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)," said geneticist Tushar Chakraborty, one of the convenors of the forum, in a statement.
"The cultivation of Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh bordering Bengal is posing such a threat," he added.
The team requested Bose to ask union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to "write to his Bangladesh counterparts to ensure that no trans-boundary movement of Bt brinjal takes place, and that Bangladesh should take responsibility for the same under the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety".
As for the introduction of GM mustard, the team said "Bengal, being the largest consumer of mustard and also one of the largest producers of mustard in the country, would suffer the most if GM Mustard is introduced in the country".
"Bengal government already has a policy in place which bans any GM crop cultivation in the state. It is important that the state government’s policy framework in this context must not get breached by any decision by the Centre," Chakraborty said.
"The state agriculture minister expressed his concerns on the matter and accepted our memorandum," he added.