New Delhi, April 25: A crop survey has shown an Indian farmer has planted his field with an unapproved variety of genetically modified (GM) aubergines, an environmental voluntary group said Thursday.
After years of trials, India in 2010 decided not to introduce the GM eggplant, or Bt brinjal, the Indian word for aubergine, following opposition from activists.
“Our rudimentary tests have established that at least one farmer in Haryana has planted Bt brinjal and we’ve requested authorities to ensure that the variety doesn’t spread any further,” Kapil Shah of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture said referring to the north Indian state.
The GM variety of the vegetable is designed to resist some pests thanks to a gene from soil bacteria called Bacillus thuringniensis (Bt).
While India decided not to introduce the GM variety, neighbouring Bangladesh allowed commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal in 2013.
“We’ve sent the sample to government authorities and a private laboratory for further tests,” Shah said.
It is not clear how the variety seeped into Indian agriculture, he said.
Other than lab-altered cotton, approved in 2003, India doesn’t allow any other GM cultivation.
In 2017, a top Indian cotton-producing state ordered an inspection of fields planted with an unapproved variety of GM cotton seeds developed by German drug maker Bayer AG’s Monsanto unit.