Brinjal (also called eggplant or talong) is a popular vegetable in South and Southeast Asia. However, the cultivation of genetically engineered (GE), also called genetically modified, or GM) Bt brinjal poses risks to the environment and possibly to human health. The occurrence of wild, weedy and also cultivated relatives presents a likelihood that the GE Bt gene will spread to these relatives but, so far, this has largely been overlooked in the risk assessments for the GE Bt brinjal.
Genetically engineered Bt brinjal and the implications for plant biodiversity - revisited, an independent study commissioned by Greenpeace International, finds that GE Bt brinjal may mate with these relatives to spread the GE Bt gene. Spread of the GE Bt gene would have considerable ecological implications, as well as implications for the future crop contamination and farmers' rights. Importantly, spread of the GE Bt gene could result in brinjal becoming an aggressive and problematic weed. Greenpeace urges governments to employ the precautionary principle and not permit any authorisation of the outdoor cultivation of GE Bt brinjal, including field trials.
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