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Bt brinjal controversy
Bt brinjal controversy
Bt brinjal controversy
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Bt brinjal controversy

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bt brinjal

bt brinjal

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  • 1. BT BRINJAL CONTROVERSY:<br />What is bt brinjal? and Why BT brinjal in India is banned after bt brinjal controversy? Here are answers for those who are confused with these terms in simple layman language.<br />What is Bt brinjal?<br />Bt brinjal is genetically modified variety of brinjal which gives more resistant to Brinjal plant against insects.<br />In technical terms Bt Brinjal is a transgenic brinjal created by inserting a gene [Cry 1Ac] from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (and hence the name Bt) into Brinjal. The insertion of the gene into the Brinjal cell in young cotyledons has been done through an Agro bacterium-mediated vector, along with other genes like promoters, markers etc.<br />This genetic insertion is said to give the Brinjal plant resistance against insects. It is reported that upon ingestion of the Bt toxin by the insect, there would be disruption of digestive processes, ultimately resulting in the death of the insect.<br />Monsanto Holdings P Ltd, a US based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation that promoted GM crops in India through Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (a 50:50 joint venture between Monsanto and Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company) found itself in the center of this debate.<br />When was it started?.<br />The transformation work on Bt Brinjal started in Year 2000. Biosafety tests like pollen flow<br />studies, acute oral toxicity etc., were taken up along with back-crossing programme from<br />2002. After two years of greenhouse evaluation, in 2004, multi-locational field trials were<br />conducted in 11 locations with five hybrids of BT crops.<br />Farmers will be able to continue to save and re-use their seed for the hybrids and<br />varieties because of this arrangement,<br />Status of Brinjal<br />Brinjal is an important and indigenous vegetable crop in India. Brinjal has been in India for over 4,000 years. It accounts for half a million hectares of land in India with an output of 8.4 million tonne.<br />Why BT brinjal in India is banned after bt brinjal controversy?<br />First let us undestand the controversy and why people are opposing it? Several studies on Bt crops in particular and GM crops in general show that there are many potential health hazards in foods bio-engineered in this manner. GM-fed animals in various studies have shown that there are problems with growth, organ development and damage, immune responsiveness and so on.<br />Environment activists says the effect of GM (genetically modified) crops on rats have shown to be fatal for lungs and kidneys. It is dangerous to introduce these experimental foods into the market without proper research, they say. It may cause diseases like swollen face, itching skins, allergies, et cetera.<br />Moths and butterflies would die and may led to their extinction, if they consume the pollen grains of Bt brinjal. <br />A study by French scientist Eric says the tests conducted by Mahyco, the company producing Bt brinjal, were simply not valid and raised serious health concerns.<br />Besides the environment hazards, activists allege that the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) has shown a bias towards companies like the Monsanto.<br />This would be a big threat to India's agriculture with MNCs charging Indian farmers for their seeds. The supply of seeds will be regulated and thus costlier. Indian farmers would have to depend on MNCs for seeds.<br />The issue over Bt brinjal gets worse with central government ministers contradicting each other.<br />In a GM product, the genetic material is altered to benefit the consumer and producer, as it is pest-resistant and promises to offer a higher yield. <br />Environmental activists have over the years questioned the bio-safety of these products and pointed out that this is a form 'bio-terror' that should be curbed at all costs.<br />If the GEAC decision if approved by the government, it would also lead to other GM food crops, like rice, maize, soyabean, etc in the country.<br />The All India Kisan Sabha has said that there should be no hasty introduction of Bt brinjal without addressing these concerns. It also demands complete transparency from the GEAC. Without public examination and a debate on the safety of Bt brinjal, this product should not be approved for environmental release.<br />What Mahyco Says?<br />Meanwhile, Mahyco said this will help millions of brinjal farmers who have been suffering from the havoc caused by the Brinjal Fruit and Shoot Borer (BFSB). Bt brinjal will help them tackle this pest in an environment-friendly manner and increase yields and farm income. <br />They say this will help small and marginal farmers from having to use 25-80 sprays of<br />pesticides which are ineffective, says the company<br />In Kerala, environmentalists and social activists observed a one-day fast on January 30 in protest against the Centre's move to introduce Bt brinjal in the country.<br />Campaigns have also been organised by Greenpeace activists who have demanded long-term tests before Bt brinjal is released into the market. <br />The governments of West Bengal, Orissa, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar have all indicated their opposition to the Union government's plan to approve Bt Brinjal.<br />Bt Brinjal in India<br />Bt Brinjal is being developed in India by M/s Mahyco [Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company]. No GM Brinjal has been released for an advanced stage of field trials in open conditions anywhere in the world.<br />On February 9, 2010 the government of India officially announced that it needs some more time to release Bt brinjal. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said that there is no over-riding urgency to introduce Bt Brinjal in India.<br />Teachings from the BT brinjal controversy:<br />The case helps to: <br />(1) analyze the business environment for GM crops in India; <br />(2) study the regulatory environment pertaining to GM crops in India; <br />(3) understand the bio-safety protocol and its necessity and relevance to developing countries like India; <br />(4) understand bi-osafety governance in India, its accuracy and lacunae.<br />

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