- Experts have slammed a recent move of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) — a government-appointed committee responsible for appraisal of proposals of genetically engineered organisms — giving its greenlight for biosafety research-level-II (BRL-II) field trials for Event 142, a new variety of genetically modified brinjal (Bt brinjal).
Why this is a matter of concern
- quietly given approval without any data in the public domain
- no transparency in the manner when it came to reports regarding the biosafety of this variety of brinjal
- got approved even before the second season BRL-II and the biosafety report was out. It was claimed that everything was safe
- labelling regime for the products cannot work as most products in India were sold unpacked in an open manner
- Right to safe food is a fundamental right and GM foods like Bt Brinjal reaching the markets violates consumer rights
Does India need Bt brinjal?
- India was the centre of origin and the centre of diversity for brinjal, as it had more than 3,600 accessions — a group of related plant material from a single species which is collected at one time from a specific location to assess diversity.
- developers claimed they developed this variety to target the shoot borer pest and increase yield.
- The same issues were pointed out when Bt cotton was introduced, with developers claiming it would target the pink ball worm pest.
- After considering the health and environmental impacts of the previous Bt brinjal variety (Event EE1), it was not allowed to be cultivated in India
- major pests observed in the Bt Brinjal field included viruses, fungus, insects and mites.