The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee's approval of Bt brinjal, the first genetically modified crop for human consumption in India, has sparked off protests across the country. This article questions the so-called benefits of GM crops and highlights some major concerns. These include: inadequately addressed health and environmental risks, inadequate safety guidelines, a lack of transparency in sharing test data, the implications to seed sovereignty of farmers and the lack of informed choice for consumers. Some concerns about field testing by Mahyco, the developer of Bt-brinjal, and the process of evaluation by GEAC remain unresolved. With inadequate information about the crop's long-term safety, a precautionary approach is advocated before national policy allows commercial release of the seeds.
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Skip to content. If Bt brinjal performs as Mahyco proposes, brinjal output will increase and retail prices will fall, benefiting consumers far more than farmers. Companies might charge premium prices for Bt brinjal seeds, in which case farmers may not benefit at all. II] Biosafety issues On biosafety issues, scientific opinion is divided down the middle. Brinjal happens to be such a crop. While some scientists were in favour of releasing Bt brinjal, others highlighted crucial deficiencies in the characterization of Bt brinjal, and in the environmental impacts assessment.
Further, a majority of the technical expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court recommended a ban on genetically modifying those crops for which India is a centre of origin or diversity. III] Nutrition issues In terms of nutrition, there seem to be some significant differences between Bt and ordinary brinjal.
Many health researchers have argued that Bt brinjal poses risks to human health. Swaminathan and V. Further, they asked that these be conducted independently, instead of relying exclusively on Mahyco for data.
In the debate Bt brinjal found no support from State governments. Kerala and Uttarakhand asked for a ban on GM crops. States with substantial brinjal cultivation, i. West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar opposed the release pending rigorous, extensive testing. Both committees expressed grave concerns about lapses in the regulatory system. However, since retailing is largely unorganised, enforcing truthful labelling is a logistical nightmare, and the Ministry of Agriculture believes it is impractical.
No scientific consensus yet In sum, there is a moratorium on Bt brinjal because there is no scientific consensus on its safety and efficacy, and because the States and Parliament have profound misgivings about the regulatory system. In recent years, pests have developed resistance to Bt cotton, forcing farmers to spray lethal pesticides.
This led to over 50 deaths by pesticide-poisoning in Yavatmal in If anything, the problem of sustainable, remunerative farming has become more acute, and alternative strategies such as organic and zero budget natural farming, which do not allow GM seeds, are gaining ground. We cannot wish all these concerns away simply because some farmers want to try Bt brinjal, or farmers in Bangladesh have been cultivating Bt brinjal since Farmers do not and cannot assess long-term impacts on ecology and health, which needs more rigorous and sensitive studies than those conducted so far.
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Damning allegations: India's fields still have Bt brinjal
India banned Bt brinjal in but, nine years on, the genetically modified GM crop is still in circulation, said activists on April 25, Representatives of the Coalition for a GM-Free India also demanded immediate action from the central and state governments. He was, however, using pesticide against other pests, activist Rajinder Chaudhary said at a briefing in Delhi. Samples have also been sent to a private laboratory to be tested, the results of which are expected by the month-end. Bt brinjals are sold in the local mandis like any other brinjal. At Rs 8 a piece, in fact, the GM seeds were exorbitantly more expensive than normal ones that sell for Re 0. A farmer would need 3, such seedlings to sow an acre.
Should the Bt Brinjal Controversy Concern Healthcare Professionals and Bioethicists?
Skip to content. If Bt brinjal performs as Mahyco proposes, brinjal output will increase and retail prices will fall, benefiting consumers far more than farmers. Companies might charge premium prices for Bt brinjal seeds, in which case farmers may not benefit at all. II] Biosafety issues On biosafety issues, scientific opinion is divided down the middle. Brinjal happens to be such a crop. While some scientists were in favour of releasing Bt brinjal, others highlighted crucial deficiencies in the characterization of Bt brinjal, and in the environmental impacts assessment. Further, a majority of the technical expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court recommended a ban on genetically modifying those crops for which India is a centre of origin or diversity.
Bangladeshi Bt brinjal farmer speaks out in GMO controversy
The genetically modified brinjal is a suite of transgenic brinjals also known as an eggplant or aubergine created by inserting a crystal protein gene Cry1Ac from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis into the genome of various brinjal cultivars. The insertion of the gene, along with other genetic elements such as promoters , terminators and an antibiotic resistance marker gene into the brinjal plant is accomplished using Agrobacterium -mediated genetic transformation. Mahyco , an Indian seed company based in Jalna , Maharashtra , has developed the Bt brinjal. The genetically modified brinjal event is termed Event EE 1, and Mahyco have also applied for approval of two brinjal hybrids.