Bt Brinjal | UPSC

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Bt Brinjal | UPSC

Bt Brinjal | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

Experts slam move for approving new Bt brinjal variety, cite regulatory lapses

      WHY IN NEWS:

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) during its 139th meeting May 19, 2020.

MINISTRY? :-MOEFCC
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: GM Crops

      LEARNING: 

For PRELIMS go through the proteins , toxics and the pesticide variants concerned to BT BRINJAL .

For MAINS do you think such experiments at this stage are worth ? Bangladesh should be a wonderful example in your answers

      ISSUE: 

The Event 142 variety of genetically modified brinjal was quietly given approval without any data in the public domain, claim experts

Bt BRINJAL

WHAT IS BT BRINJAL

  • In Bangladesh, eggplant is known as “brinjal.” It’s also known as “talong” in the Philippines and “aubergine” in Europe.
  • “Bt brinjal,” a genetically engineered variety of eggplant.

It provides effective protection against the devastating eggplant fruit and shoot borer (FSB) without the application of pesticides.
 

  • Bt brinjal-4—the variety ; can produce an insecticidal protein that is toxic to FSB.

DEVELOPERS

Bt brinjal was developed through a collaborative partnership funded by USAID and managed by Cornell University and its India-based Sathguru Management Consultants.

  • Bt brinjal technology is not owned by any company.
  • India-based Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Co.(Mahyco) did the first work to establish that Bt genes .
  • Mahyco initially developed an eggplant that expresses Cry1Ac (EE-1) to control eggplant fruit and shoot borer.
  • Meanwhile, the University of the Philippines-Los Baños has been conducting similar research on its local cultivars.

THE NEED OF BT BRINJAL

  • Brinjal is a very popular fruit in South Asia.
  • However, it is subject to frequent and intense attacks by the FSB.

Bt Brinjal UPSC

Bt Brinjal | UPSC

Farmers may apply as many as 23-140 insecticidal sprays per season to control the FSB and other pests.

  • This practice exposes farmers, consumers, and the environment to high levels of hazardous pesticides.
  • It also represents a substantial expense that smallholder farmers cannot easily afford.
  • Worse, farmers often experience significant losses even after applying pesticides.

AVAILABILITY

  • Recently, there has been progress towards establishing appropriate regulatory structures for testing and possible commercialization in the Philippines.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) approved its commercialization in 2009 following field trials and safety evaluations.

PRINICPLE

  • Researchers inserted insecticidal crystal (Cry1Ac) proteins from the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) bacterium into the genetic code of brinjal cultivars.

This gives the plant and each fruit it produces inherent resistance to attacks by FSB.

  • The Bt approach to insect control has been safely and effectively used globally in other crops, such as maize, for over two decades.

NEED FOR PESTICIDES

Some spraying is still required to control other insects, such as whiteflies, thrips, and mites, that attack brinjal but are not affected by Cry1Ac.

  • Bt brinjal is the first genetically engineered food crop created specifically for smallholder farmers in a developing nation.

BT BRINJAL SEEDS

  • Farmers can save Bt brinjal seeds because the approved varieties of Bt brinjal are open-pollinated.
  • This is best done when farmers follow best practice guidelines, such as using conventional brinjal borders around the plot for growing Bt brinjal.

SAFETY ISSUES

  • Extensive international research has documented that Cry1Ac proteins are safe for human food and livestock
    feed.
  • Rigorous food and feed safety studies, evaluation and nutritional studies, confirmed that Bt brinjal is as safe as its non-Bt varieties.
  • Other studies have found Bt brinjal has no adverse environmental effects.

These include studies conducted on pollen flow, effects on soil microflora,agronomy, germination, and weediness.

  • These extensive studies indicate that Bt brinjal has no unintended effects.

DOES INDIA NEED BT BRINJAL

  • India was the centre of origin and the centre of diversity for brinjal.
  • Like Bt cotton, developers claimed they developed this variety to target the shoot borer pest and increase yield.
  • But the pest is not the problem for a brinjal farmer. The price offered for the crop is.
  • The Bt technology worked initially, but the pink ball worm became resistant to the Bt toxin within five years.
  • The GEAC has now, however, gone ahead with trials for Event 142, stating the earlier moratorium had no implications for this variety.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

BANGLADESH’S EXPERIMENT

  • Bangladesh, however, has become an example of how Bt Brinjal failed.
  • With the country’s story similar to India’s, where an approval was given without any data in the public domain.

In a study, found the claims made for Bt brinjal were false.

  • Farmers after the first and second rounds of seed distribution were not promising.
  • The farmers lost between 15,000 and 30,000 Bangaldeshi Taka (approximately Rs 13,011 and 26,022).
  • Farmers were promised ‘no pest attack, no pesticide use’ along with a higher yield and income.
  • This, however, was not the case as major pests observed in the Bt Brinjal field included viruses, fungus, insects and mites.
  • Around 35 types of pesticides were used to control the pests.
     SOURCES:DownToEarth | Bt Brinjal | UPSC

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