BT Eggplant, Friend or Foe?


Most farms today grow the BT eggplant.
This eggplant is transgenic.
The BT eggplant has a toxin that supposedly harms only insects and not humans.

What is BT

It is named for a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or “Bt” for short, that naturally produces an insect-killing toxin. To engineer a Bt crop such as eggplant, developers extract the gene that codes for the toxin from the bacteria’s DNA. They then insert the gene into the crop’s DNA so that the plants, and their offspring, will manufacture their own insecticide. (Extracted from http://scienceline.org/2009/11/will-eggplant-be-the-world%E2%80%99s-next-gm-crop/

Why do they need BT

 The fruit and shoot borer causes lots of damage. It’s a pink, sesame seed-sized moth larva that eats the stems and fruits of an eggplant from the inside out. Developers estimate that borers can wipe out up to 70 percent of a farmer’s crop. (Extracted from  http://scienceline.org/2009/11/will-eggplant-be-the-world%E2%80%99s-next-gm-crop/)

Read this quote regarding the effects of the BT toxin: 

“Dr. Quijano should know that the toxin in Bt is very specific to insects and is in fact only against lepidopterans. If he knows his biochemistry, he should know that: (1) Proteins break up when heated so when we cook eggplant, its proteins also break up; (2) human and insect guts differ in pH and that the Bt proteins do not stand highly acidic conditions characteristic of the human gut but would be very active in a highly basic insect gut, and; no known binding receptors exist in the gut, and scientists continue to study this. Maybe Dr. Quijano should help in this aspect as a medical doctor to unravel the human gut receptors for Bt toxins. Fear of the unknown is not a reasonable answer to real poverty and hunger,” Adalla counseled. (Extracted from http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/304633/bt-eggplant-protein-targets-only-insects-not-human-expert

Did people get sick?:

With Bt crops, a recent study from Madhya Pradesh in India shows adverse human health impacts in farm and factory workers with allergies caused by Bt Cotton. Itching skin, eruptions on the body, swollen faces etc., were also reported, correlated with levels of exposure to Bt Cotton. Bt toxin had caused powerful immune responses and abnormal cell growth in mice. It has also been shown that all the Cry proteins in Bt crops have amino acid sequence similar to known allergens and are hence potential allergens.(http://k-ramalingam.sulekha.com/blog/post/2010/01/the-ill-effects-of-bt-brinjals.htm)

Why should we worry: 

No extensive studies were done by M/s Mahyco [Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company before introducing the new transgender eggplant into the marketplace. Cooksploratrice does not believe the world needs more allergens. In India, close to 10% of the population has experienced negative reactions to the eggplant. (http://www.allergenbureau.net/enews-archive/less-common-and-emerging-food-allergens)



This definitely confirms that:
1. Your eggplant should be cooked
2. Organic eggplant would be a smart purchase

Please read this leaflet: Green Peace Leaflet on BT eggplant

So, cooksploratrice community, what are your thoughts on BT eggplant?
Does this worry you?

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