Sunday, February 07, 2010

Blazing Brinjal

Brinjal is very common vegetable fruit in India.India is the second largest Brinjal producing country in the world. Now the Brinjal is blazing topic in India caused by Bacillus Thuringiensis (BT) Brinjal which was developed by Mahyco Monsanto Biotech. (Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company & Monsanto, USA). Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) of India accepted for commercial use of BT Brinjal- the country’s first genetically modified (GM) food crop. The GEAC was set up by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to regulate research, testing and commercial release of GM crops, foods and organisms. However, the government could not taken decision without more consultation with stakeholders.
In the meantime lot of public groups, Environmental activists, scientists, and farmers are protesting against BT Brinjal. The Environment and Forest minister Jairam Ramesh is touring seven cities—Kolkata, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Nagpur and Chandigarh—and holding public discussions with farmers, activists and scientists on their comfort with Bt brinjal.

The protesters are claiming that: BT brinjal is a threat to plant biodiversity, flaws in the data on the gene inserted into the brinjal, no long-term toxicity and cancer-safety tests were done which leads to kidney and liver damage. Farm workers are suffering with allergies including rashes, itches, and irritations while working in GM crop fields. Cattle health may get harm and negative impact on its milk production.

Supporters are impressing that: BT Brinjal will help to tackle the pest in an environment-friendly manner and increase yields and farm income. BT Brinjal has been tested in full compliance with the guidelines and directives of the regulatory authorities to ensure its safety. It has the same nutritional value and is compositionally identical to non BT brinjal, except for the additional BT protein which is specific in its action against the Pest.

I am not against to the technology but we already have more than 200 varieties of brinjal, there is no dearth of brinjal in India. Indians have been eating so many conventional varities of Brinjal for centuries which contains rich health & nutrition values. We can develop new varities by hybridization and natural selection, what is the need of introduction of BT Brinjal. They are mentioning BT Brinjal contains same nutrional values as non BT, so there is no need of Sense of Urgency on BT Brinjal at this point of time.

The GM companies should focus their R&Ds on the crops like...
Ethanol based Transgenic Sugarcane and sugar beet crops have to be developed for support Biofules instead of fossil fuels. Genetically Engineered Tobacco plants are required for medical use. Modified Subabul, Bamboo plants are required more tonnage for paper production.
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