Greenpeace report reveals scientific doubt on safety of Bt eggplant

Press release - February 23, 2011
Manila, 23 February 2010 – Greenpeace today released a technical report that casts scientific doubts on the safety of Bt eggplant (locally known as talong), and called upon the President to intervene and immediately ban further field trials of all Bt eggplant crops in the face of increasing rejection from Filipino farmers.

“Greenpeace maintains that environmental and food safety groups’ objections to genetically engineered (GE) crops such as Bt eggplant are based on sound and objective science which is precisely why GE crops need to be regulated by national governments and international treaties[1].  There are big scientific questions about the safety of GE food – questions which many scientists continue to ask even when a GE crop has been planted and used for food.  The issue at hand is the safety of GE crops, which up to this day remains scientifically unproven,” said Daniel Ocampo.


The Greenpeace Technical Briefing Paper on Bacillus thuringiensis Eggplant[2] examines the health risks, environmental impacts and contamination from Bt eggplant.  Key points of the paper include:

  1. Bt eggplant is potentially toxic to humans and animals.
  2. There are observed differences between Bt and non-Bt eggplant.
  3. Antibiotic marker genes used in Bt eggplant could render vital antibiotic medicines less effective.
  4. The Bt in GE eggplant is different from the Bt used in organic farming, and is toxic to beneficial insects.
  5. Field trials of Bt eggplant will undoubtedly lead to contamination since open experiments can never be contained.

The report quotes Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, France, and president of the Scientific Council of the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN):

All that makes a very coherent picture of Bt brinjal [eggplant] that is potentially unsafe for human consumption. … Indeed, it should be considered as unsuitable for human and animal consumption ….The agreement for Bt brinjal [eggplant] release into the environment, for food, feed or cultures, may present a serious risk for human and animal health and the release should be forbidden.

“GE is a distraction from research into ecological farming.  Money and resources spent on GE research limit capacity for research and development of real, scientific ecological farming solutions.  When we know that these crops are potentially unsafe, why should a very small group of scientists continue such harmful experiments at the expense of the rest of society’s wellbeing?” concluded Ocampo.

Greenpeace campaigns for agriculture that is good for the planet and people; healthy food grown with the environment — not against it; and farming that will help us cope with climate change.

The Technical report may be downloaded at www.greenpeace.org.ph/bteggplant

 
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Notes:

[1] The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety is the first international agreement to regulate the transboundary movements of genetically engineered (GE) organisms.  It explicitly recognizes a much needed precautionary approach to the environmental release of GE organisms.  The precautionary principle is at the heart of this agreement.  This means that countries have the right to ban or restrict the import and use of GE organisms when there is a lack of scientific knowledge or consensus regarding their safety.

[2] www.greenpeace.org.ph/bteggplant

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Contact Details:

Daniel Ocampo, Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner, +63917 8976416, (632) 332 1807 loc 112,

JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +63917 6312750, (632) 332 1807 loc 121,

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