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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Beware of BT Brinjals

Beware of BT Brinjals

“Science without conscience is but ruin of the soul” wrote Francois Rabelais. We allow all types of havocs, to wreck the population, out of both ignorance and indifference. After the havoc takes place we give juicy explanations, have debates and start the blame game. The very thought of allowing untested BT Brinjals sends shivers down the collective spine of innocent millions who would be consuming it unaware of the possible dangers it can have on the health. Bureaucrats are either chicken hearted or operate with childish knowledge, media lacks the gall to oppose for fear of losing advertisement revenue from the perpetrators of these activities, at least scientist must extricate themselves from the shell of academicism and provide a welcome antidote by boldly spelling out the possible health hazards. Now that we have information explosion, let us use the full potential of our limbic brains and prevent the havoc instead of searching for cures and culprits after the havoc.

We have clear cut right not to allow BT Brinjals it as per

1] Cartagena Protocol, which demands an extra-cautious approach for testing GM varieties in regions where the crop originated.

1a] Peru, where potato originated, and Mexico, original home of corn, have a ban on genetic testing of these two. This comes from the fear that the alien gene, mostly sourced from other species, could escape (in some instances it indeed has) from the modified varieties, and contaminate the crop’s entire natural genetic diversity

2] Brinjal originated in INDIA-

2a] I.S. Bisht, a principal scientist at the Delhi-based National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, asserts that Solanum melongena L (the botanical name for brinjal) originated in the wild in India and adjoining areas—a view seconded by noted food historian K.T. Achaya, who also states that brinjal is an indigenous vegetable that originated from a wild ancestor. The bureau has acquired and conserved as many as 2,500 varieties of brinjal, 95 per cent of them from India.

2b] 4th century BC brinjal recipe from Ettuthogai, an ancient Tamil text: Smear green brinjal with gingelly oil. Roast it on charcoal and then peel it. Mash it when cold. Heat some more gingelly oil. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, crushed pepper corns, ginger powder and chopped fresh ginger. Finally, add the mashed brinjal and cook briefly till well-blended. (Courtesy: Jacob Aruni)

2c] the history of the popular Sode Matha temple, in Karnataka’s Udupi district, is inseparable from the vegetable. Poisoned, Lord Hayavadana asked for a naivedyam prepared from a special type of brinjal called gulla. That variety is now widely known as ‘mattu gulla’, the former being the name of the village where it was first cultivated

2d] Brinjal is even older than Sanskrit, which had to borrow the word ‘vartaka’ and ‘vrntaka’ from the Munda language

3] Greatness of Brinjal. Dr. James S. McLester, well-known professor of medicine at the University of Alabama and one of the pioneers in treating nutritional deficiencies, says: "If a man would enjoy sustained vigor and would experience his normal expectancy ... he must eat a liberal quantity of good protein." Good protein means, of course, a complete protein-one containing all 10 essential amino acids and Brinjal has almost all the essential amino acids Arginine, Lysine, Tryptophan, Phenylalanine, Methonine, Crystine, Theonine, Cystine, Threonine, Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.

4] Brinjal is richer in nicotine than any other edible plant, with a concentration of 100 ng/g (or 0.01 mg/100g.

5] Brinjal is high in histamines. A few proteins and at least one secondary metabolite have been identified as potential allergens.

These three factors essential amino acids, nicotine and histamines make any gene inserted into BRINJAL really deadly to the person who consumes it as it can get into the vital body organs and cause damage to health much faster.

6] Genes inserted into GM food survive digestive processes and are transferred into the human body. They are known to have transferred themselves into intestinal bacteria too. Bt toxin had caused powerful immune responses and abnormal cell growth in mice. It has also been shown that all the Cry proteins in Bt crops have amino acid sequence similar to known allergens and are hence potential allergens.

7] Bt brinjal has been modified to produce an
unknown chimeric insecticide toxin containing Cry1Ab and Cry1Ac modified sequences

Bt brinjal produces into the vegetable cells a protein
inducing resistance towards at least kanamycin, a well known antibiotic

Bt toxins have never been authorized as such for mammalian consumption.
Artificial ones should not be either, before a more serious assessment.

8] I would like to add here a very meaningful letter written by a scientist with conscience to the MINISTER concerned on this issue:-

“Na ruteh shrantasya sakhayay devaha-God does not help inactive people” - Rig Veda (4.33.11)

‘Sri Vaishnava Sri’
23, Maniyakarar Street, Veerakeralam, Coimbatore-641 007, Tamil Nadu, India
E- Mail :<> Phone: 0422-2473853

October 23/24, 2009

Honorable Shri.Jairam Ramesh,
Union Minister,
Ministry of Environment & Forests,
Paryavaran Bhavan,
CGO Complex, Lodhi Road,
New Delhi - 110 003
E-Mail: “Hon.Shri .Jairam Ramesh”<> ,

Respected Sir.

Pranam JI
I salute and bow my head Sir for having taken a decision not to hurry up with a transgenic crop and having given an opportunity to the public and stake holders to open their minds to give their unbiased views on such crops.
Sir your earlier statement that ‘GM crop is acceptable but GM food is not’ is the best one made by keeping the health of 120 cores of Indian and finest bio diversity of our country in the mind. As one of the citizens of this Nobel Country with the base intelligence I submit the following for your kind notice.

The Genetic improvement of crops by conventional and biotechnology approaches involves the addition of genetic variation to varieties and cause changes in the plant genome that result in unintended effects on crop traits. But the screening processes help to have the varieties with desirable traits.The dwarf gene in wheat and Rice besides making them highly fertiliser responsive laid the foundation for Green revolution and prevented starvation death of billion people around the world particularly the Indian sub continent.Thanks to Dr.Norman Borlaug. The fertilizer responsiveness made the mankind to over do in the system to cause an irreversible damage to the Agro system. Similarly with cotton where we advocated the use of pesticides saying that they have “Tonic effects” and increase the productivity. But over, indiscriminate use led into collapse of the system with unintended health hazards to human beings. These are all due to existence of very little knowledge on the biochemistry and changed plant metabolism under these situation and mono culture which replaced the existing polycrop system in those days.

The 21 stTechnological Century provides us various tools to study and assess the biological mechanism with ease. The Chinese group of scientists have elicited how the Bt- gene has modified the nitrogen metabolism and increased the free amino acid, soluble protein, nitrate reductase and the glutamic-pyruvic transaminase activity in cotton (Chen, D.H. et al.Field Crops Res. 87: 235- 244 2004). Such of these basic informations will aid for developing appropriate agronomy which may not go against the wellbeing of the system and will help to keep our system intact to some extent.
The transfer of genes into plants is one of the breeding methods like hybridization and mutagenesis and cannot be ignored or discarded as this mode help to transfer specific gene into the matrix of the plant cell for getting a desired effect with in short time span. The advance made in the field of gene transfer enabled the mankind to introduce the Bt-gene to the crop easily (Perlak, F.J et al..Proce. Natl. Acad.Sci, USA 91: 7217-7221, 1994) and get quick benefit as against other methods. But there are some known and unknown implications that are woven with this method and crops developed.

It has been conclusively established that the BT material exudes Bt proteins through roots into the soil and gets accumulated to interact with the soil fauna. The insecticidal toxin binds tightly to clays and humic acids and persisting in various soils for at least 234 days like DDT. We took several decades to ban the use of DDT in our India as it has caused several irrevocable Ecological and health hazards. The same effects are likely to descend to our dynamic agro system with transgenic crops.They besides creating the ecological problems that are associated with monoculture agriculture may result in cumulative effects of toxins in soils. The Scientists of Indian Institute of Agriculture Reseach (IARI), New Delhi have brought to light that the transgenic crop (Bt) has reduced the total mineral-N+ NO3 -N) in soil by 14 % and enhanced P besides reducing Dehydrogenase activity, and respiration of our own soil indicating that there is reduced activity of soil microflora (B. Sarkar et al., J. Agronomy & Crop Science
194, 2008.). About seventy five percent of total area under cotton in our country is under the transgenic materials and we do not know what is happening in our soil in these areas in our system. If the soil ecosystem and its species dynamic are affected it is difficult even to imagine what type of catastrophe will embrace our country and her finest biodiversity.

The Bt materials are known to carry unknown fragments of RNA and DNA genetic material and new proteins, but whose biological effects particularly toxicity and allergic action for humans and animals are not fully brought to light. It has been reported that the unintended DNA and RNA fragments in genetically modified maize may bring some “unexpected turbulences” (Rosati et al. Plant Molecular Biology, 67: 271- 281(2008), and whether the presence of these fragments are specific to certain Bt genes are not known. It has been reported recently that orally administered DNA is known to interact with the Immune system and if it is so what will be the effect of food containing the unintended DNA is also not known. Scientists have evaluated the gut and peripheral immune response to genetically modified maize in mice and found recurrent changes in the immune system (Finamore et al. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 56:11533-11539, (2008) like T-cells). Such  changes in the number of a special type of lymphocytes ( T-cells are known to be involved in the modulation of inflammatory response and associated with asthma or with untreated food allergy in children. Alterations of the Immunopheno types induced by the transgenic maize were associated with the increase in some cytokines (like Interleukin 6 (IL-6), Interleukin 13, Interleukin 12p70 and MIP-1) which are important in the human immune response (Finamore et al. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 56:11533-11539, (2008). It is note worthy that Scientists have also traced fragments of synthetic transgenes in the blood of piglets fed with transgene food.( Mazza et al. Transgenic Research ,14: 775-784,2005) and feared that these may interact with the immune system .

Laboratory animals fed GM foods have developed stomach lesions, intestinal damage, and proliferative cell growth in the walls of the stomach and intestines. The only published human feeding experiment has revealed that the genes inserted into GM soya crops transfer into the intestinal bacteria and continue to function even after stopping to eat GM foods and this indicates that the GM proteins continuously producing in the human bodies.

GM soya and GM corn both contain at least one new unexpected allergen not found in natural crops.

Mice and rats fed GM food had resulted in smaller and partially atrophied livers and in some heavier which could signal inflammation.
Both male and female animals displayed troubling reproductive problems when fed GM soya Over half of the babies of mother rats fed GM soya died within three weeks, compared to 10 percent of the non-GM soy offspring. The GM babies were smaller and were unable to conceive in a subsequent study. Male rats and mice fed GM soy had altered testicles, including fewer young sperm cells. (American Academy of Environmental Medicine & LIA Foundation, Source: Examiner)

The Bt materials are known to interfere with the non target species, wellbeing of predators (Hilbeck, A., M. et al Environmental Entomology 27, 460-487. 1998) and parasites. It is also feared that vector-mediated horizontal gene transfer and recombination to create new pathogenic organisms The Bt protein is moving up trophic levels of food chain and contaminates the bee hieves.Whether our hives in and around the major honey producing state Punjab surrounded by 13.5 lakh hectares of cotton crop do have pollen grains of transgenic cotton is not known. It is also known fact that DNA can persist in the field plot for at least a year (Meier & Wackernagel, Transgenic Research 12, 293-304 2003)

It is well known fact that 500 species of insect pests have already developed resistance to conventional insecticides, pests can also evolve resistance to Bt toxins present in transgenic crops (Altieri.M, The Ecological Impacts of Agricultural Biotechnology, An original article,2001) despites the usage of refuge crops that is being recommended for cultivation of transgenic crops. The recent report says that the transgenic cotton in tribal area of Dungarpur, in Rajasthan has been plagued by insects including bollworm at varied levels.
The removal of one species of insect pest from the given eco niche either by nature or man will pave the way for an Ecological Succession of another one as evidenced earlier in our cotton system (Sundaramurthy, V.T., Outlook on Agriculture 31: 95-106, 2002). The second such Succession has already set in our cotton growing regions where the crop is devastated by the mealy bugs. The main concern with transgenes that confer significant biological advantages is that they may transform wild/weed plants into new or worst weeds.
The Brinjal is native of India belongs to the family Solanaceae, has more than 2000 local varieties, more than 31 improved varieties were released by IIHR, Bangalore, IARI, New Delhi, Agricultural Universities and State Agriculture Departments (Yawalkar K.S, Vegetable Crops in India, 1992) cultivated on 550,000 hectares in different interesting eco niches having different soils and fertility, temperature, rainfall and water yielding 25- 30 tonnes of fruits\ha and infested by about 12 species of insects. This vegetable meets the demand of local market and also export. The shoot and fruit bores (Euzophera particella and Leucinodes orbanalis,) are the most important pests.It is a good achievement made by our scientists of the Private Sector who developed transgenic variety to ward off these borers. It is likely to result the same effects as that of other Bt-food crops as detailed in this mail (vide Attachment). It is every likely hood that some of the transgenic materials may go harmoniously with environment and health of living beings.
Considering its role in reducing the use of toxic pesticides and residue before allowing the Brinjal to enter into our system we should have informations on the compositions of fruits, such as various carbohydrates,proteins, lipids, and their composition, terpenes, alkaloids, nature and content of fibres, presence of any new compounds or metabolites that may affect the general physiology of human beings, induce drug resistance and resistance to pathogenic organisms, and its effects on the intestinal fauna.But it is safe to have a detailed informations on the calorific value, nature of toxins that are produced by the inserted genes,its effects on the in take and digestion, feed conversion and efficiency ratios and digestive disorder if any. The morphology and function of internal organs particularly liver, haematology particularly the prothrombin, platelet count, haemoglobin concentration and haematocrit value, and biochemicals such as glucose total albumin, lactose dehydrogenase, bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase , alanine, aspartate aminotransferases ,sodium, potassium and calcium levels, and reproduction in the test animals. Its effect on, production and composition of milk in cow also needs to be ascertained as the refuse are used as feed in the rural areas. The data on these aspects collected either at different meteorological zones ( We have about 110 such zones in our country) or fruits produced at these area are to be used as the expression of genes including the alien one is controlled by temperature and nutritive status of soil.It is not sound to relay on data collected with the fruits grown at one single experimental area
The reactions of this variety to other pests and soil borne diseases may also be documented at various ecological zones of our country.
Honourable Sir, with your kind permission I submit to bring to your kind notice the reality that is going on in our rural areas.
‘The crop brinjal is not cultivated in large areas contiguously like cotton. It is in small patches and so adoption of mechanical control (pinching) measure is easy and a distinct possibility. In the fruiting stage, only the affluent farmers apply pesticides and not the small farmers cultivating local varieties. It is a practice even now in villages to remove the borer damaged portion of the fruit for feeding the cattle.Undamged portion is reserved for human consumption’
We have the best diversity in this crop and loved by all.The mothers in Gudiyatham area near Vellore in Tamilnadu used to visit her daughters not with costly presents but with a basket full or at least a few fruits ( as told to me by my friend after submitting the mail) of local variety of Brinjal to please them. This is a good example for the social binding that this crop has with the Indian population. Let us not destroy such age old bindings in the name of science. These crops I think need no sophisticated technology to improve further as has been demonstrated earlier by our scientists in the Public and Private Research Establishments in the country. If at all it needs any improvement let our scientists introduce drought, saline tolerant and yield increasing genes. The cultivation of GM crops in several countries does not mean that it should be accepted in our country with 120 cores of population and varied interesting biodiversity.
Sir, since insertion of Bt gene into plant system is somewhat easier and does not involve huge budget every one is dabbling with this materials with out making proper analysis on its impact on the system.The gene transfer is one of the finest tools that is being used to improve the quality of food materials in number of countries. They have succeeded in developing the carotene rich Rice variety, Flood-Tolerant Rice, Superhybrid Rice, folate rich Lettuce , drought-resistant tomato with more lycopene and antioxidants, Grapes with quality wine, shatter-resistant brassicas, Inserting weed genes to protect crops from global warming , mass production of HIV Microbicide in plants and attempts are under way to enrich food with essential nutrients omega-3 fatty acid in tomato and okra (Bharati Vidyapeeth University's Interactive Research School for Health Affairs (IRSHA) in India). The novel approach zinc finger nuclease in Biotech is used for targeting specific genes in plants for their manipulation to get the desired effects. The Government should encourage such new approaches in improving the quality and yield of food crops as mere food security with out conferring health security through food may not help the population to prosper under changing scenarios.The Government besides developing an Independent Post -Monitoring System should encourage ‘improvement in transgenic methods that will minimize risks; research to identify transgenic plant traits that would provide environmental benefits; research to develop transgenic plants with such traits; research on the environmental impacts of transgenic crops’ in the country by providing adequate funds.
I end this mail by inscribing the statement made by our beloved
Hon. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh ji:
“We need to strike a balance between using the potential of biotechnology to meet the requirements of hungry people while addressing concerns about interfering with nature”
to save Indians as Human beings.

Thanking you Sir,

With Respectful Regards
Respectfully yours
Sundaramurthy V.T.

Post Script:
I was given to understand that A Brand of GM CHIP has entered into our south Delhi despite a ban on this.”


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