Prelims level : Science & Technology Mains level : Technology, Economic Development, Bio diversity, Environment, Security and Disaster Management
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Why in News:

  • Senior advocate Prashant Bhushan has sent a legal notice to Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan asking for a freeze on all genetically modified organisms, including field trials.


  • Though growing Bt brinjal is illegal in India Bhushan’s letter comes in the aftermath of activist groups recently proffering evidence of Bt Brinjal, a GM crop, being grown in a farmer’s field in Haryana.
  • Letter demands the Environment Ministry to uproot and destroy planted Bt brinjal in farms and seedlings in nurseries, undertake a scaled-up exercise of testing of seeds and plantings (for the presence of BT Genes) and, ascertain the supply chain – from seed developers to intermediaries.”
  • Bt brinjal was the first food crop made to contain an insecticidal protein, called cry1 ac,
  • Though this was cleared for commercial cultivation it was put in deep-freeze in 2010 on the grounds that there was scientific and public disagreement on its safety.
  • The lab report was also sent to the government, which picked up samples of the suspected Bt Brinjal crop and sent it to the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in New Delhi for testing.
  • Following brinjal, a genetically modified strain of mustard too is in the regulatory pipeline. GEAC panel ruled that more tests were required before the mustard could be made available in farmer fields.

What is Bt Brinjal?

  • Bt Brinjal is a transgenic brinjal created out of inserting a gene [Cry 1Ac] from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into Brinjal. The insertion of the gene into the Brinjal cell in young cotyledons has been done through an Agrobacterium-mediated vector, along with other genes like promoters, markers etc.
  • This gives (so said) Brinjal plant resistance against lepidopteran insects like the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (Leucinodes orbonalis) and Fruit Borer (Helicoverpa armigera).

Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC)

  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) was constituted under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) as the apex body under the ‘Rules for Manufacture, Use, Import, Export and Storage of Hazardous Microorganisms/Genetically Engineered Organisms or Cells 1989’ in accordance with the Environment Protection Act, 1986.

National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources

  • Management and promote sustainable use of plant genetic and genomic resources of agri- hotricultural crop and carry out related research
  • Coordination and capacity building in PGR management and policy issues governing access and benefit sharing of their use
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