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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bt brinjal good or bad?

 Can we use bt brinjal?

                   Every people in india and all over the world, they are in confussion about Bt brinjal.
Some people tells that we can use maajor parts of people tells not to use it.  
India is about to decide on the fate of Bt Brinjal, the first GM food crop that the regulators, industry and some sections of the Govt of India are apparently hell-bent on bringing in - it has now been shown that an Expert Committee that recommended Bt Brinjal was under the influence of pressure and vested interests.

Those who are concerned about Indian farming realise very well that pest management in brinjal is fairly simple, through sustainable and affordable practices that farmers can be taught to adopt (you can download a brochure on Fruit & Shoot Borer

Brinjal is a crop of great socio-cultural significance to Indians. India is the Centre of Origin and Diversity for Brinjal. Scientific papers record that Brinjal was one of the favourite dishes of Lord Krishna. The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in India holds more than 2500 accessions of Brinjal from India, reflecting the vast diversity that has evolved here. It is argued that special brinjal varieties like Mattu Gulla from Karnataka have to be protected under the principle of genius loci.

It is with this brinjal that tampering in the form of Bt Brinjal, supported by Americans (USAID, Cornell University and Monsanto), is taking place in India right now. Read more about Bt Brinjal in this briefing paper.

Transformation work and trials on this brinjal have been underway since 2000 in India. Open air trials began in 2002. In 2007, as per the recommendations of an Expert Committee (which was headed by a GM crop developer), large scale trials were permitted by the Indian regulators. These trials were allowed to take place inside NARS campuses which were themselves holding and maintaining brinjal germplasm collections!

It is being claimed by Mahyco that Bt Brinjal is "bio-safe" through studies done by the company or commissioned by it. There is no independent research on the safety of this Brinjal and the biosafety data was put in the public domain only after a long protracted struggle under Right To Information Act and finally after the Supreme Court ordered for the data to be put out, which is available here.

While no independent research takes place in India to guide decision-making, not even independent analysis of crop developer's data is taken up by the regulators! It took the inputs of four international experts to wade through the biosafety dossier that has been branded confidential and placed in a format not easy to readily use for data analysis etc. Prof Gilles-Eric Seralini, Prof Judy Carman, Prof Doug Gurian-Sherman and Prof Jack Heinemann had provided their inputs after reviewing Mahyco's biosafety data and concluded that this Bt Brinjal was unsafe for an environmental release and cautioned against the same. A quick comparison between Mahyco's conclusions and Prof Seralini's conclusions shows how Mahyco glossed over and discounted many important indicators of the unsafe nature of Bt Brinjal.

A network of doctors from around the country called Doctors for Food & Bio Safety also wrote to the GEAC asking for a rejection of Bt Brinjal, based on these independent reviews of Bt Brinjal biosafety. Further, experts of Indian Systems of Medicine like Ayurveda also raised their concerns with the regulators, specifically presenting information on how brinjal and related plants are used in Ayurveda.

A summary of scientific concerns, especially of the health issues raised by various experts and given to the regulators is downloadable here.

Civil society groups kept presenting the regulators with data and information on how safer, affordable, sustainable and farmer-controlled alternatives exist to chemical pesticides in the cultivation of crops like Brinjal. However, brushing aside fundamental issues and even re-writing a scientific fact about India being the Centre of Origin/Diversity for Brinjal, the regulators moved ahead and formed an Expert Committee (EC2) to look into findings from large scale trials and 'other related biosafety studies' of Bt Brinjal. This Committee too was fraught with conflicting interests; further, two members who were to represent the health ministry have been asked to play the role of observers and not provide inputs or ask questions!

The Expert Committee, in two sittings of three hours each, came up with its report, discounting many scientific points raised in an unscientific and officious manner. This report has been slammed as a disaster by eminent molecular biologist and the Supreme Court appointee into the GEAC, Dr Pushpa Bhargava.

On the 14th of October 2009, within hours after circulating the EC2 report, GEAC met for its 97th meeting and recommended the environmental release (commercial cultivation approval) of Bt Brinjal in India, the first ever such food crop anywhere in the world, with the toxic Bt gene in it!

However, the Minister for Environment and Forests announced on 15th October 2009 that the Government of India would take a decision only after holding consultations with all stakeholders in the months of January and February 2010. It is now upto all citizens of India to engage themselves in this debate and stop Bt Brinjal from entering our plates.

Meanwhile, from the time of the GEAC meeting and subsequent hasty, unscientific decision, several state governments had reacted to this development and started announcing that they would ban Bt Brinjal cultivation in their respective states. This includes Kerala (a state with an organic and GM-Free farming policy), Orissa, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh (reports available on the home page of this website).

Earlier in 2006, an independent expert committee set up by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture & Thanal, to look into issues related to Bt Brinjal, found that DBT guidelines were not always followed by the developers of transgenic brinjal. It found that some tests as laid down by the DBT were not taken up in the safety evaluation or test protocols were not as per the specifications laid down in the guidelines. The Committee acknowledged that recent published evidence on the genes and vectors used in evolving Bt Brinjal show that caution needs to be exercised in using these materials in plants and plant products meant for human use. Results of some toxicity tests show that unless raw data is examined and full report seen, it is not possible to arrive at any meaningful conclusions regarding safety of the product.

On the agronomic trials, Bt Brinjal is not compared with the best agronomic and pest management practices available nor have trials been taken up for at least three years. Committee observed that parameters prescribed in the DBT’s permission letter were not always meticulously followed by the company. Committee found that data from the company is insufficient for any conclusion to be drawn about the efficacy of Bt Brinjal. From AICRP data, there is not much hope for Bt Brinjal, the Committee noted.

Committee noted that impact assessment beyond biosafety, including addressing issues like genius loci, of IPR regime on farmers’ rights etc. is important.  The Committee called for a holistic approach rather than a reductionist approach here. The Committee noted that the issue of the Indian sub-continent being the Centre of Origin for brinjal is of considerable relevance and that need for Bt Brinjal should be re-examined against this background.

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