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Genetically modified brinjal unsafe

Gargi Parsai

NEW DELHI: An independent analysis of the ‘Effects on Health and Environment of Transgenic (genetically modified) Bt Brinjal’ conducted by France-based Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering has concluded that Bt brinjal’s release into the environment for food and feed in India may present a serious risk for human and animal health. It has said Bt brinjal’s commercial release should be forbidden.

Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini’s analysis of Mahyco’s Bt brinjal biosafety data – as submitted to the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) – points out that the Bt brinjal produces a protein which can induce resistance to kanamycin, a well-known antibiotic, which could be a major health problem. The analysis was commissioned by Greenpeace.

While pointing out in his analysis that Bt brinjal had not been properly tested from the safety and environmental point of view, Professor Seralini observed that in feeding trials significant differences were noted compared to the best corresponding non-Bt controls.

For instance, in goats fed with this GMO, the prothrombin (time it takes for blood to clot) was modified, in rabbits less consumption was noted, in cow’s milk production and composition was changed, GM-fed rats had diarrhoea, higher water consumption and liver weight decrease, in broiler chickens feed intake was modified and in fish, average feed conversion and efficiency ratios were changed. “All this makes a very coherent picture of Bt brinjal that is potentially unsafe for human consumption. It will also potentially be unsafe to eat animals with these problems, having eaten GMOs,” he said.

Besides, the professor’s analysis noted that the longest toxicity tests which were for only 90 days did not assess whole safety of the food or feed that could be eaten during the entire lifetime, and long-term effects like development of tumours or cancers. He observed that several differences that were found between the study and the (closest) control groups in the Bt Brinjal bio-safety tests were not reported in the summaries of Mahyco’s test reports and statistically significant differences that were reported were discounted.

Commenting on the secrecy on “confidential” raw data for toxicity for GMOs, Prof. Seralini said it had no scientific basis and created doubts in people’s minds. Asked to comment on the analysis, M.K. Sharma of Mahyco said he had not seen the analysis but all toxicology tests were conducted not only by Mahyco but by reputed government institutions.

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