Prelims level : Bt Brinjal, GMO Mains level :
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GS 3: Science & Technology

Why in News?

The activists representing the Coalition for a GM-Free India (CGFI) have alleged that Bt brinjal is being cultivated illegally in Haryana.


  • Bacillus Thuringiensis Brinjal, popularly known as Bt brinjal, has been at the centre of controversy in India.
  • Bt brinjal, a genetically modified strain created by India’s seeds company Mahyco in collaboration with American multinational Monsanto, claims to improve yields and help the agriculture sector.
  • The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), has sought information about Bt brinjal from Bangladesh, where farmers have been growing the crop since 2013.
  • According to International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), which works to promote bio-technology, Bt brinjal incorporates the cry1Ac gene expressing insecticidal protein which creates resistance against fruit and shoot borer , a pest.

Side effects of Bt Brinjal:

  • Brinjal is prone to attack from insect pests and diseases, the most serious and destructive of which is the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) Leucinodes orbonalis.
  • It is said be fatal for lungs and kidneys.
  • Food safety and possible effects on organisms other than the pest insect (non-target organisms).

Genetically Modified Organisms:

  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) can be defined as organisms (i.e. plants, animals or microorganisms) in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.
  • The technology is called “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering”. It allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another and also between non-related species.
  • GM crops are aimed at providing increased level of crop protection by introducing resistance against plant diseases caused by insects, viruses and from herbicides.
  • The resistance against insects in GM crops is achieved by incorporating into the food plant the gene for toxin production, which is currently used as a conventional insecticide in agriculture and is considered safe for human consumption.
  • Virus resistance is achieved through the introduction of a gene from certain viruses which cause disease in plants. Virus resistance makes plants less susceptible to diseases caused by such viruses, resulting in higher crop yields.
  • Herbicide tolerance is achieved through the introduction of a gene from a bacterium conveying resistance to some herbicides. In situations where weed pressure is high, the use of such crops has resulted in a reduction in the quantity of the herbicides used.
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