By Syed Akbar
There has been a lot of debate on the safety aspects of genetically modified crops. Those in favour of GM crops say they help farmers by reducing the costs on pesticides, while increasing the yields to feed the ever-growing population. But those who oppose GM crops, express doubts over their environmental safety and fitness for human or animal consumption.
In India the only GM crop that has been in mass cultivation for at least five years is Bt cotton. But cotton is a commercial and not a food crop. In the USA and other countries Bt maize and Bt Soya are in cultivation and most of the produce goes for animal feed.
Bt brinjal will be the first GM food crop to be permitted for human consumption.
Arguments against Bt brinjal
1. Those who eat Bt brinjal will develop resistance to antibiotics like neomycin and streptomycin.
2. The bacterial gene inserted in Bt brinjal releases crystal proteins, which are dangerous for human consumption.
3. Since Bt brinjal is a new product, it is now clear how it will react with human body over a long period of time.
4. Bt brinjal will upset the natural biodiversity, posing a major threat to ecological balance.
Arguments in favour of Bt brinjal
1. Bt brinjal will do away with the need for pesticide spraying.
2. It will increase productivity, thus helping farmers monetarily.
3. Bt brinjal is safe for human consumption.