GM eggplant released without independent testing
The development of genetically modified field crops is a lucrative business. Monsanto corporation is often cited as the entity responsible for the proliferation of GM field crops. It is a leader in this industry, but there are many others eager to cash in on the bonanza.
Sometimes that eagerness combined with crop losses in normal plants pushes GM seed release before it has been independently tested for health and environmental risks. Information is now available that puts a shadow on the Bangladeshi government’s approval of four varieties of GM eggplant(brinjal) seeds.
That eagerness to release Bt brinjal(eggplant) to farmers may come with health impacts. The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute(BARI) has admitted that there were no independent health/toxicity tests done before the release of the seed. The reason, or excuse, given was that there were no suitable labs available. Instead, BARI relied on information released by the corporation that had patented the genetically engineered seeds. In this case, Monsanto owns the patents.
The admission that no independent toxicity testing was performed comes after widespread release of information to the public that such independent testing was performed.
New Zealand epidemiologistLou Gallagher also criticised the feeding trials saying that the raw data indicated toxic effects were associated with the rats fed Bt Brinjal. Concerns have also been raised about a possible conflict of interest, with some of the scientists appointed to the GEAC being involved in developing their own GM products, Wikipedia
The four Bt brinjal varieties were banned in India in 2010 due to concerns about toxic effects.
While brinjal(eggplant, aubergine) production in N. America is not a major crop, it is in Bangladesh. The vegetable is also exported to other Asian countries. Farmers have been coping with a grub that attacks the plants and reduces their yield. The GM plants come with a built in insecticide. There are some concerns that Bt plants also give a dose of insecticide to those who may eat part or all of the plant.