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February 16, 2010

India suspends first GM food crop on safety grounds

India has halted the cultivation of what would have been its first genetically modified (GM) vegetable crop because of safety concerns.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said more studies were needed to ensure genetically modified aubergines were safe for consumption.

The GM vegetable has undergone field trials since 2008 and received approval from government scientists in 2009. But there has been a heated public row over the cultivation of the GM crop.

"Public sentiment is negative. It is my duty to adopt a cautious approach," Mr Ramesh said. He said the moratorium on growing BT brinjal - as the variety of aubergine is known in India - would remain in place until tests were carried out "to the satisfaction of everyone".

It appears Mr Ramesh has put any cultivation of GM vegetables in India on hold indefinitely.

India allowed the use of genetically modified seeds for cotton in 2002.

BBC

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