Five years ago, India was a hostile place for researchers testing genetically modified (GM) crops. Its government barred the commercial planting of a transgenic aubergine (a vegetable locally known as brinjal) after protests from anti-GM activists. Then it gave state governments the power to veto transgenic-crop field trials. The result: an effective moratorium on such trials. “We felt as if we had come up against a brick wall, and might as well chuck it in and do something else,” says molecular biologist Bharat Char, who works for Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), a firm in Jalna that pioneered the GM brinjal (and in which agricultural giant Monsanto holds a minority stake).