The Development and Regulation of Bt Brinjal in India (Eggplant/Aubergine)

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Abstract or Summary

A comprehensive review of all aspects of the cultivation in India of the important vegetable brinjal, also known as eggplant or aubergine. Importantly, the Brief also summarizes the development and regulatory status in India of biotech Bt brinjal hybrids which confer resistance to the most important insect-pest of brinjal, the fruit and shoot borer.

Bt brinjal has been under development by Mahyco in India for the last 8 years. It has undergone a rigorous science-based regulatory approval process in India and is currently at an advanced stage of consideration for deregulation by the Indian regulatory authorities which approved the experimental seed production of Bt brinjal hybrids by Mahyco in 2008-2009. Studies on food and feed safety, including toxicity and allergenicity tests, have been conducted on rats, rabbits, fish, chickens, goats and cows; these studies have confirmed that Bt brinjal is as safe as its non- Bt counterpart. Similarly, environmental impact assessments to study germination, pollen flow, invasiveness, aggressiveness and weediness, and effect on non-target organisms were completed, and it was confirmed that Bt brinjal behaves in a similar way to its non-Bt counterparts. Agronomic studies showed a significantly lower number of FSB larvae on Bt brinjal, 0-20 larvae, as compared to 3.5-80 larvae on the non-Bt counterpart. Multi-location research trials confirmed that insecticide requirement for Bt brinjal hybrids was on average 80% less than for the non-Bt counterpart for the control of FSB; this translated into a 42% reduction in total insecticides used for control of all insect-pests in Bt brinjal versus the control. As a result of the effective control of FSB, Bt brinjal’s average marketable yield* increased by 100% over its non-Bt counterpart hybrids, 116% over popular conventional hybrids and 166% over popular open- pollinated varieties (OPVs) of brinjal. Thus, to-date the studies submitted to the regulatory authorities confirm that Bt brinjal offers the opportunity to simultaneously provide effective control of the most important pest of brinjal, FSB, decrease insecticides for this important insect-pest by 80%, and more than double the yield over conventional hybrids and open-pollinated varieties, thereby providing significant advantages for farmers and consumers alike. At the national level it can thus contribute to food safety and security and to sustainability.


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