Facts Box: Illegal farming of Bt Brinjal

Two laboratories confirmed illegal Bt brinjal cultivation in Haryana recently. The samples have also been sent by the Haryana Government to National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR).

Bt Brinjal

In India, Brinjal is grown in around 550,000 hectares. India is the second largest producer of Brinjal after China. However, the most common problem faced in brinjal cultivation is attack from pests and insects. In order to avoid this problem, cry1Ac gene that possess insecticidal protein was injected into brinjal crop. The genes were sourced from soil bacterium. These genetically modified brinjals called Bt Brinjals were approved by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) in 2009. But was turned down by the then Environment Ministry in 2010.

Commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal is in use in countries like Bangladesh.

Reasons to use Brinjal

The Bt Brinjal will bring down the use of pesticides and the costs will go down. Also, use of Bt Brinjal will increase the yield. This in turn will increase the earnings of farmers improving food security of the country.

Why was it turned down by the ministry?

The impact on human health with the use of Bt Brinjal is not clear. Also, approving Bt Brinjal will open the gates for other Genetically modified food crops, especially mustard.

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