Bt Brinjal Harmful

Expert independent scientist verdict contradicts Indian regulatory authorities on biosafety of GM aubergine Sam Burcher

Release of Bt brinjal into the environment for food, feed and cultivation may present a serious risk for human and animal health; the GM aubergine is unfit for consumption [1]

. That's the verdict of French scientist Professor Gilles- Eric Seralini of the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN), who carried out the first ever independent assessment of Monsanto- Mahyco's dossier on toxicity tests submitted to the Indian regulatory authorities.

Professor Seralini, commissioned by Greenpeace India to undertake the assessment, said his key findings were statistically significant differences between groups of animals fed GM and non-GM brinjal in the raw data, which were discounted rather than used to raise food safety concerns and to call for further investigation [2].

Although the differences were not reported in the dossier summaries, they remained visible in the raw experimental data. These differences, seen by Monsanto-Mahyco, were deemed biologically irrelevant, and disregarded on the grounds that they were within a wide ‘reference' group of brinjal types.

Health impacts **************

On health effects, Seralini found that:

- Bt brinjal produces a protein in the vegetable cells that induce antibiotic resistance. This is recognised as a major health problem and is inappropriate for commercialised use.

It may also indicate that old GM technology is being used as the technology has already moved on from antibiotic resistance marker genes.

- Bt brinjal appears to have 15 percent less calories and different alkaloid content compared to non-GM brinjal. It contains 16-17 mg/kg Bt insecticide toxin.

When fed to animals, effects were observed on blood chemistry with significant differences according to the sex of the animal or period of measurement. Other effects were on blood clotting time (prothrombin), total bilirubin (liver health), and alkaline phosphate in goats and rabbits.

- Changes in lactating cows were observed in increased weight gain, intake of more dry roughage matter and milk production up by 10-14 percent as if they were treated by a hormone.

- Rats fed Bt brinjal had diarrhoea, increased water consumption; decrease in liver weight, and liver to body weight.

- Feed intake was modified in broiler chickens.

According to Seralini, “This makes for a very coherent picture of Bt brinjal that is potentially unsafe for human consumption. The GM brinjal cannot be considered as safe as its non GM counterpart.” In addition, he says that the longest toxicity test were only for 90 days, which does not assess long-term effects such as the development of cancers or tumours.

Furthermore, he considers it potentially unsafe to eat animals with the health problems that had been fed Bt brinjal.

Environmental impacts *********************

Seralini criticises the lack of studies directed at non- target organisms such as butterflies and moths. He believes it is almost impossible through measurements of toxicity in a few species of non-target organisms to get a sufficient view of the possible harm to complicated ecosystems, which may vary from place to place in India .

He says that extant studies give no assurances that growing Bt brinjal will be safe for the environment, as they lack information on the indirect effect on the food chain as a whole, particularly with the regard to gene flow, and the possibility of GM contamination of neighbouring brinjal crops.

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