It wasn’t long ago that a genetically modified eggplant (also known as Bt brinjal) became a complete failure in the eyes of the country’s standardized health and safety procedures. Basically, the crop made its way into the market without any independent testing to find out whether or not it could harm human health. When questioned about the incident, the director of the government testing agency exploded in a fit of rage.
What did he tell people?
If people are so concerned about the safety of Bt brinjal, they should do their own research on the plant. This probably wasn’t the smartest move when it comes to reinforcing a crop that should have passed safety tests.
The government organization itself, the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) insists that the plant does not harm humans, the environment, or anything really. But if the director is admitting that no testing was actually done to verify if these statements are true, then why should anybody believe it?
What effect did the Bt brinjal actually have?
Well to squash the statements made by BARI many of the farmers who actually used the saplings stated that the eggplant pretty much ruined them. A number of them admitted that they’d be happy never using those crops again. This isn’t really a surprise, because GMOs already have a track record of damaging farmland for farmers who grow the products. Unfortunately, a lot of the damage also spreads into areas that never actually used the toxic processes in the first place.
Neglecting to test the safety of the Bt brinjal is especially concerning when you consider the fact that eggplant is one of the most widely consumed crops in Bangladesh. It’s the equivalent of putting out a replacement for potatoes or tomatoes in North America and not looking into any associated risks. Sounds completely absurd, right?
Bt Brinjal can actually be toxic to humans.
Research into the effects of Bt Brinjal is showing that it can actually be toxic to mammals. Many of the tests performed were done on rats, which are actually one of the most available testing animals that share similarities with humans. Exposure to the eggplant resulted in:
- Liver damage that consequently weakened the rats’ immune functions
- The rats developing ovaries at half their normal weight
- Spleen enlargement with a 40% higher blood cell count than normal
Funnily enough, these findings were made by a subsidiary of the Monsanto corporation, which has more than enough of a bad rep on its own. The subsidiary (Mahyco) didn’t report any of these numbers to BARI, and instead declared the crop as safe to consume.
So, there are two wrongs here. Mahyco didn’t do their job by honestly reporting facts about the toxicity of Bt brinjal, and BARI didn’t conduct any separate testing to confirm that the crop was actually ‘safe.” The eggplant was never labelled, and nobody had any idea that it wasn’t properly tested and confirmed safe by the country’s health standards. Think about what could have happened if nobody ever found out?