Bt brinjal has proven safety and would benefit farmers

While the nay-sayers seem to have outgunned the votaries of Bt brinjal at present, the fact is that the pest-resistant biotech crop has been extensively tested and found safe for human consumption, argues Bharat Char, lead, biotechnology, Mahyco

There has been intense debate over the safety and efficacy of Bt brinjal, the country's first insect tolerant brinjal, developed by Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Co Ltd (Mahyco). (See: Bt brinjal needs much further testing)

Bharat CharThe Indian company promoted by Badrinarayan Barwale has sourced the Bt technology used for the product development from Monsanto, which has a stake of 26 per cent in the company.

Across the world, crops such as corn and cotton expressing Bt genes have been cultivated or consumed for 15 years with no adverse reports on human health. Bt proteins have been used in bio-pesticide formulations for over 50 years without any incidence of human toxicity.

Bt proteins rapidly break down in simulated digestive systems and have not revealed any signs of toxicity in the tests conducted.

Using biotechnology, Mahyco has developed FSB resistant Bt brinjal, which has shown 98 per cent insect mortality in shoots and 100 per cent in fruits compared to conventional pesticide-sprayed brinjal hybrids in the field trials conducted.

These benefits translate into an impressive 116 per cent increase in marketable fruits and a 70 per cent reduction in pesticide sprays for FSB by farmers.