Wed, 24/02/2010 – Jude Fanton
The Indian Government has banned genetically engineered (GE) eggplant after the ex-Director of Monsanto India admitted the corporation provided ‘fake scientific data’ to regulators. In announcing the moratorium on GE eggplant, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, said there was not enough evidence that GE foods were safe to eat and that they didn’t harm the environment.
‘It is my duty to adopt a cautious precautionary principle-based approach and impose a moratorium on the release of Bt-Brinjal until such time as independent scientific studies establish, to the satisfaction of both the public and professionals, the safety of the product from the point of view of its long-term impact on human health and the environment,’ said Ramesh.
The decision followed a public statement from former Director of Monsanto India, Tiruvadi Jagadisan. In his statement, Jagadisan said that the chemical company ‘used to fake scientific data’ to get government regulatory agencies to approve GE crops for commercial release.
The Indian Government decision has implications for Australia, raising serious questions about the safety of the GE foods that have been approved for Australians to eat.
‘India’s GE outrage calls into question the credibility of all food safety data provided by Monsanto,’ said Greenpeace GE campaigner, Laura Kelly. ‘Greenpeace is calling on the federal government to act immediately to review the regulations that allow our regulator to disregard independent evidence on the risks Australians face eating GE foods and consider only the data provided by multinational chemical companies with a history of illegal activity,’ says Kelly.
‘The same gene inserted into GE eggplant has been inserted into the GE cotton grown in Australia in NSW and Queensland,’ says Kelly. ‘This is used to produce cottonseed oil, which is a popular frying oil in fast-food restaurants.’
‘The Indian Government’s rejection of this GE toxin raises the urgent need for the Australian Government to improve current food safety regulations and consider all independent, peer-reviewed studies on the health risks of eating GE toxins in food.’