For the first time, the Indian government's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) has granted “biosafety clearance” to a genetically modified crop. On April 3, the DBT strongly recommended that Monsanto's Bt cotton, which has been engineered to contain a gene from Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), should be introduced into the country in the interest of cotton farmers, who have been losing the battle against bollworm, a major pest of cotton. The decision was made after regulators were “fully convinced about its safety and potential economic benefits to farmers,” according to DBT adviser Prasantha Ghosh, who says it paves the way for large-scale cultivation and marketing of transgenic cotton in India, and opens the doors for the entry of other GM crops. Monsanto must now go through the formality of seeking permission from the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee for large-scale trials.
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