Bt Brinjal GMO; an unhealthy choice?

February 25, 2009


January 2009


Effects on health and environment of transgenic (or GM) Bt brinjal

By Pr. Gilles-Eric SERALINI, University of Caen, France, and President of the Scientific Council of the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN).




“The dossiers submitted by Mahyco in support of their application for commercialization of genetically modified (GM) Bt brinjal raise serious concerns. …Bt brinjal has been modified to produce an unknown chimeric insecticide toxin containing Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac modified sequences. In the toxicity tests on target and non-target insects, this chimeric toxin has not been used but instead, an improper Cry1Ac toxin was used because this control was easier.

…Bt brinjal produces into the vegetable cells a protein inducing resistance towards at least kanamycin, a well known antibiotic. This is typical of the first generation of GMOs which have been made without consideration of the problem.

Antibiotic resistance is recognized to be a major health problem because of the growing

development in the environment and bodies of antibiotic resistance genes. It is very inappropriate to consider commercializing a food containing an antibiotic resistance gene since several modern biotechnology companies have already developed transgenic plants without this kind of marker genes. It is possible that Mahyco has bought an old unused GMO technology to Monsanto Company.

…in feeding trials, numerous significant differences were noted compared to the best corresponding non-Bt controls: Bt brinjal appears to contain 15% less kcal/100 g, have a different alkaloid content, and 16-17 mg/kg Bt insecticide toxin poorly characterized for side effects, and produced by the plant genetically modified for this.

Parameters affected in animals fed with this GMO are in blood cells or chemistry, but in different manners according to the period of measurement during the study or the sex: in goats prothrombin time is modified, and biochemical parameters such as total bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase are also changed, as well as feed consumption and weight gain. For rabbits less consumption was noted and also prothrombin time modification, higher bilirubin in some instances, albumin, lactose dehydrogenase and the hepatic markers alanine and aspartate aminotransferases. Sodium levels were also modified, as well as glucose, platelet count, mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentration and haematocrit value. In cows milk production and composition were 10-14% changed. There was more milk and more roughage dry matter intake like if the animals were treated by a hormone. Rats GM-fed had diarrhoea, higher water consumption, liver weight decrease as well as relative liver to body weight ratio decrease. Feed intake was modified in broiler chickens as well as glucose in some instances. Average feed conversión and efficiency ratios are changed in GM-fed fishes. All that makes a very coherent picture of Bt brinjal that is potentially unsafe for human consumption.

…. Brinjal is known to have existed in India for 4000 years. Given that India is also a functional Centre of Origin of brinjal, any release of Bt Brinjal into the environment, poses a significant risk of contamination to sexually compatible wild species and consequent harm to the environment in addition to the contamination of Non-GM varieties. The commercialization of Bt Brinjal will exacerbate that risk. The release of Bt brinjal for these reasons as well would be a problem. The agreement for Bt brinjal release into the environment, for food, feed or cultures, may present a serious risk for human and animal health and the release should be forbidden.”

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One Response to “Bt Brinjal GMO; an unhealthy choice?”

  1. Pushpa M Bhargava, appointed to the GEAC by the apex court after a case in which the clearance process was challenged, has warned that enormous scientific literature was ignored in a haste to clear the first genetically modified food crop in India.

    The former director of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology has pointed out that the 102-page report thick with scientific information was cleared without giving adequate time for its scrutiny.

    He warns that the committee’s report has enormous scientific and technical errors and is inconsistent in parts.

    The final report of the GEAC did not contain any dissenting report. It instead read like a unanimous view of all the members of the committee.

    Bhargava has said that he was in no doubt that the clearance of BT brinjal was pre-planned and the committee was an eye-wash.

    Bhargava had suggested the postponement of the meeting for a month and suggested a one- or two-day meeting where other experts would also be called for the review. This suggestion, Bhargava said, was ignored in the haste for granting a clean chit to the proposal.

    He has warned in his missive to the ministry that allowing the release of BT brinjal would be a major national disaster and would open up a Pandora’s box.

    Elsewhere, Bhargava has pointed out that besides him, two other scientists on board had communicated their strong reservations but were ignored. He pointed out that Ramesh Sonti of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, who is a Bhatnagar Prize winner and member of GEAC, was of the opinion that there were fundamental flaws in the technology being cleared.

    Bhargava had earlier raised objections to the fact that all crucial and necessary tests had not been carried out. Those that were carried out were either done by the company or in the case where the tests were carried out by accredited labs, the company provided selected samples.

    He had also pointed out that GM crops were banned in most parts of the world and were predominant only in the US, Canada, Argentina and Brazil.

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