A French scientific study has slammed BT brinjal, heating up the controversy over the biotech crop’s safety, as India pushes ahead with largescale field trials.
Led by Caen University professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, a study team of the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering has not only branded BT brinjal “unsafe for human consumption” but also raised serious doubts on safety data presented by developer Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd (Mahyco) to the government. Mahyco is the Indian partner of US biotech giant Monsanto.
The study says eating BT brinjal brought down appetite in goats, altered prothrombin (which helps blood clot) in rabbits and glucose levels in broiler chickens in its tests. It also induced resistance to kanamycin, an antibiotic. The study also questioned safety tests conducted by Mahyco, based on which the government is conducting trials. It said in toxicity tests on insects, Mahyco used an “improper” toxin. “This could also make these tests not valid,” it said.
Mahyco defended its data. “Biosafety studies and food/feed safety studies prescribed by government regulatory bodies have been completed on BT brinjal,” general manager M.K. Sharma said.