It’s an interesting recipe. Get a collection of Fellow Travellers. Organize a few protests (throw in a couple of madmen, just to be safe). Let “eminent” scientists sign letters. Highlight the words “danger”, “uncertainty” and “MNC” carefully. And voila! You can dragoon a minister into submission.
On Tuesday, minister of state for environment and forests Jairam Ramesh imposed a moratorium on the release of Bt brinjal in the country. He also signed the death warrant for genetically modified crops. He was, of course, at pains to say that this is not the case.
We don’t believe him.
In a country where the public discourse on science and much else is controlled by the Left, the decision that Ramesh has taken is sure to be construed as a political victory and not some cautious search for scientific data.
Our food security does not depend on the release of Bt brinjal. But supply-side initiatives to boost food output and tame inflationary pressures in the long run will be hit by this decision. It is an example of how bad politics trumps sound economics.