I’ve always had a palate for brinjal. I have often experimented with a lot of recipes on this purple-coloured vegetable, both the chubby and lean varieties. Baigan bharta, baked brinjal, sliced brinjal coated with besan and fried as pakoda. Or in its most common avatar as a subzi with potatoes — I love all of these dishes. It is a different matter altogether that most of the brinjal-laced recipes have not been greeted warmly by my family members. But I continue cooking them with zeal.
My love for the rotund veggie began from my hostel days and has blossomed with age. I’ve always admired its ‘sincerity’ — grow it anywhere and it will bloom within days even without fertilisers and with a minimum amount of water. My kitchen garden perennially blooms with baigans.
In all this comes the Bt brinjal. What exactly is it? How different is it from the friendly-looking brinjal in my backyard? With so many things to worry about, including the house budget going astray with spiralling prices, Bt brinjal is low on my priority list. Still, for the last few days I have been following loudening remarks made by those on either side of the debate. Despite my experience as a scientist before becoming a journalist, it took me some time to understand what the row was about.
After some research I found that the new version of brinjal will have to be injected with a special gene Cry1AC to make it poisonous to pests. So it is pest-resistant. But aren’t there good pest fighting methods available already? What about safety? Will the brinjal with a new DNA apparatus be as safe as its original version?
What troubles me most is that my innocuous brinjal, the sole veggie growing in my backyard, is being made a ‘guinea pig’ by scientists. Why can’t they leave it alone? With Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh putting the Bt brinjal in the freezer, I can go and pluck one from my backyard and eat my baigan bharta without fear.