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Gene tweaked but is this brinjal safe to eat?

Jan 20, 2008 04:14 PM IST India India

New Delhi: Genetically modified brinjals may soon land on your plate and no that is not good news.

Experimental genetically modified (GM) crops must be grown under strictly monitoring, but a company is growing Bt brinjal in open air in a place called Hamirpur near Delhi.

The Bt brinjal has been genetically modified for better immunity against pests, and though the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee has permitted its test information on the crop is hard to get.

CNN-IBN tried to get information on the Bt brinjal’s safety through the Right to Information Act but was denied permission on the ground that it would compromise the commercial interest of companies. Sungro Geeds, which is carrying out the tests, is sure that the brinjal is safe.

“All reports we have seen and what scientists have said is that it is safe,” says K V Somani, CEO of Sungrow Seeds.

But Somani hasn't tasted the Bt Brinjal his company grows, saying that would violate the rules.

Brinjal from the farm is dumped in a pit and left to decompose—a serious violation of rules, which say that even the body of the plant should be burnt. There is a barbed fence but it is hardly any protection against animals that can enter and feed on the brinjals.

Rules say GM crops must be kept segregated and destroyed to prevent the threat of bio-contamination. Asked to explain allegations against the checks on his company’s BT brinjal, Somani said: “It is a democracy.”

Environmental activists are worried the Bt brinjal may enter the market without proper tests as Delhi does not even have a state regulatory board to oversee the trials.

“This matter has gone beyond research and development and entered the field of public health and safety,” say Greenpeace activist Jai Krishna.

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