NOTE: As previously noted, one of the scientists at the heart of India's public sector Bt cotton scandal is Prof. BM Khadi. The scandal involves claims by government funded scientists, like Prof. Khadi, that they had developed indigenous Bt cotton varieties which were later found to include a Monsanto Bt gene.
Khadi is Principal Scientist at India's University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), and at one time headed India's Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR). He is also a leading GM regulator.
EXTRACT: Khadi also seems to have manipulated things in his favour by being a member of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) [India's apex GM regulatory body] which cleared the products... during 2008. But now he admits that his presence in the regulatory body was wrong, as someone whose product is under examination cannot be a member of the regulatory committee. –- –- Khadi admits his mistake to misuse his power Snehal Sonawane Times of India, Jan 11 2012 http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-01-11/nagpur/30615450_1_uas-monsanto-insect-resistance
NAGPUR: BM Khadi had brought the seeds from his university to CICR after taking over as CICR director. In 2005, he involved CICR in conducting bio-safety trials and seems to have misused his power as director. Now, he admits to his mistake. "Something went terribly wrong during multiplication of seeds but it is difficult to say when and how. I admit to the presence of Monsanto gene in our material. This is probably a contamination caused by cross-pollination during trials. When we got complaints from farmers for poor results in the crop we informed the DDG crop science (Gautam) but he asked us to continue the programme. I am a breeder and do not understand molecular biology," he said.
Khadi also seems to have manipulated things in his favour by being a member of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee ( GEAC) which cleared the products for genetically modified products during 2008. But now he admits that his presence in the regulatory body was wrong, as someone who's product is under examination cannot be a member of the regulatory committee.
Other experts in ICAR do not buy this argument. They say that the five scientists involved in the project, IS Katageri, HM Vamadevaiah, SS Udikeri, BM Khadi and Polumetla A Kumar were asked to withdraw their paper from Current Science published in volume 93, number 12, dated December 25, 2007, describing the work titled 'genetic transformation of an elite Indian genotype of cotton (Gossypium hirstum) for insect resistance', but the scientists did not do so.
Dutta admits something has gone wrong in the science and promised action against defaulters. Kumar, who gave the gene to Khadi, says the contamination happened at UAS end. But he too agreed that the gene given to UAS was borrowed from Prof Altosaar of Canada. "We are calling it a NRCPB gene as it belongs to us now as per agreement between NRCPB and the professor. It contains only 1850 base pairs compared to Monsanto that has 3600 pairs. I have not cheated anyone as I told Khadi about the origin of gene. My role is only to supply gene. Things went wrong at UAS end," he said.
Keshav Kranthi, who took over as acting director from Khadi, says he followed the commercialization procedure in good faith. "Since CICR was not involved at any step in development of the product except bio-safety trials and commercialization, the onus of explaining the presence of Monsanto gene or contamination lies with UAS alone," he said.