Está en la página 1de 8

Genetically Modified Eggplant and its Impacts Thesis Sentence: There are contradicting claims regarding the health

and environmental effects of the Bt eggplant, a genetically modified organism developed to avoid the use of insecticide, which leaves the consumers the responsibility to decide whether or not to patronize it. I. Bt eggplant was developed by scientists to avoid the use of spraying insecticides to eggplant, a popular vegetable that is exported by the Philippines to many other countries. A. The Philippines, an agricultural country, exports many of its crops to other countries and one of these crops-for-export is the eggplant B. Eggplant is vegetable popular worldwide due to its high nutritional content and the many, different dishes from which it can be prepared. C. Eggplant farmers use chemical insecticides in order to control the infestation of the fruit and shoot borer but since it is harmful to human health, scientists developed the Bt eggplant. II. Bt eggplant was developed using biotechnology and was intended to reduce the use of insecticides to lessen the negative effects of its use but there are claims that Bt eggplant has negative impacts as well. A. Bt eggplant was developed through the integration of the insecticidal protein Cry1Ac to its chromosomes. B. Bt eggplant is resistant to pests, therefore, reducing the use of insecticides which can cause pollution and can be detrimental to human health.

C. Despite the claims that Bt eggplant is safe for human consumption and has no negative impacts on the environment, there are still research results that contradict with these. III. Scientists still cannot come to an agreement regarding the issue of the safety of Bt eggplant; hence, consumers are left to decide whether or not to use patronize it.

Genetically Modified Eggplant and its Impacts By Wencey Anne O. Mallapre Being an agricultural country, the Philippines rely on the agricultural sector which comprises 39.8% of the labor force and contributes 20% of the gross domestic product or GDP. The countrys primary and secondary agricultural crops such as rice, corn, banana, sugarcane, coconut, pineapple, coffee, mangoes, tobacco, and abaca are exported to other countries like the USA, Japan, and some European and ASEAN countries (Encyclopedia of the Nations, 2013). One of these crops-for-export is the eggplant (Solanum melongena). Solanum melongena is a member of the nightshade family Solanaceae. Locally, it is commonly known as talong. It is called brinjal in India, aubergine in Britain, and eggplant in USA. It is a popular vegetable worldwide and is used in a number of dishes such as Parmigiana di melanzane from Italy, Eggplant parmesan from USA, Caviar daubergine from France, Yu Xiang Qiezi from China, and Yum Ma-Kuea from Thailand. (Choudhary & Gaur, 2009). In the Philippines, we have tortang talong, inihaw na talong, rellenong talong, and many other eggplant dishes. Due to the various ways of preparing the eggplant and its high nutritional value, the crop is popular globally and has a high consumer demand. Thus, it became one of the Philippines secondary crops exported to other nations (Encyclopedia of the Nations, 2013). The eggplant production, however, is severely affected by the infestation of the fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis). To get rid of the pests, farmers depend on excessive use of insecticides which results to the high production cost and buildup of residues of insecticide which poses risk to the health of the farmers and the consumers (Bandopadhyay et al, 2011;

Choudhary & Gaur, 2009; Krishna & Qaim, 2007). To solve the problem of pest infestation of eggplant, scientists resorted to biotechnology and Bt eggplant was produced. Scientists from the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (MAHYCO) extracted Cry1Ac gene from Bacillus thuringiensis, a common soil bacterium, and inserted this gene to the chromosome of an eggplant. This eggplant is called the host and after the integration of the Cry1Ac gene, the gene of interest, the cells of the host organism are transformed. Using plant tissue culture, these transformed cells are developed into a whole plant which is not agriculturally suitable. The gene from this transformed organism is then transferred to a hybrid through plant breeding techniques (Bandopadhyay, Chaudhary, & Sinha, 2011; Choudhary & Gaur, 2009). The product of this process is the Bt eggplant. Bt eggplant is a genetically modified (GM) crop that is resistant to the fruit and shoot borer. The Cry1Ac gene gave this characteristic to this GM crop since it is an insecticidal protein that is noxious to the fruit and shoot borer. The main purpose for the development of this genetically modified crop is to control the fruit and shoot borer and at the same time, reduce the usage of chemical insecticide sprays (Choudhary & Gaur, 2009). Since it reduces the use of insecticides, both the farmers and the consumers are protected from illnesses due to exposure to insecticide sprays and consumption of eggplant with insecticide residue. (Bandopadhyay et al, 2011; Choudhary & Gaur, 2009; Fakhrul Islam & Norton, 2007). Another benefit that this technology offers farmers and consumers is the increase in production due to the decrease in production cost and labor cost which are partially determined by insecticide use. This means more profit to the farmers and lower market price of eggplant, increasing the consumption of the crop which is highly nutritious (Choudhary & Gaur, 2009; Fakhrul Islam & Norton, 2007; Krishna & Qaim, 2007). It will also decrease air pollution and the contamination of the soil and

groundwater. (Choudhary & Gaur, 2009). Aside from these, study shows that Bt eggplant does not harm non-target organisms because the protein that makes it pest-resistant is a mid-gut toxin with specific requirements for it to function properly. It has to be ingested and for it to be activated, the gut must have a suitable pH level of 9.5 or above. It also requires the presence of the specific receptors cadherin and APN. Since humans and other organisms other than the fruit and shoot borer lack these specific characteristics, the Bt toxin will not be harmful to them (Choudhary & Gaur, 2009). Therefore, Bt eggplant is safe for human consumption. Despite the potential benefits of Bt eggplant, many are still skeptical regarding its safety to human health. Some non-government organizations and even some scientists are against the development of genetically modified organisms and have presented research data to support their claim that genetically modified crops such as the Bt eggplant are harmful to the human health and has negative impacts on the environment, contradicting the reports of the developers and supporters of the said genetically modified crop. For example, a study showed that animals fed with Bt eggplant displayed negative symptoms. Rats, after feeding on Bt eggplant, were observed to suffer from diarrhea, increase in water consumption, decrease in liver weight and body weight. Lactating cows, on the other hand, experienced weight gain, increase in intake of dry roughage matter, and a 10 to 14% increase in milk production as if they were treated by hormone (Bandopadhyay, 2011). The increase in milk production in lactating cows seems to be a positive result but since it was said that it was as if they were treated by hormone, many people were alarmed due to another claim that cows treated with hormone, specifically the recombinant bovine growth hormone or rBGH, produce milk that when ingested, may increase the risk for cancer.

Bt eggplant may also have negative impacts on the environment. Samuels (2012) said that Bt eggplant may interbreed with the wild varieties, transferring the pest-resistance gene. This may result to selective advantage of the hybrids which may cause increased weediness and disruption of the ecological balance and plant biodiversity. The production of eggplant, one of the major crops of the Philippines and several South Asian countries such as India and Bangladesh, is still largely affected by its common pest, the fruit and shoot borer. This has been a problem of many eggplant farmers which they still solve by the application of chemical insecticides despite the availability of the Bt eggplant. Even though the developers and supporters of Bt eggplant declare that it is a state-of-the-art technology which is considered as one of the most safe, convenient and viable options to control the fruit and shoot borer (Choudhary & Gaur, 2009), many still do not accept this product of biotechnology due to the contradicting reports of some non-government organizations and some scientists about the potential risks to the health of the consumers and threat it poses to the environment, specifically the ecological balance and plant biodiversity. The Bt eggplant, therefore, is like any genetically modified organism. It was developed for the benefit of many but still, it is not yet widely accepted due its possible negative impacts. Scientists themselves still do not come to an agreement regarding the safety of crops like Bt eggplant so consumers are left to decide whether or not to patronize such crops.

Reference List Bandopadhyay, R., Chaudhary, B., and Sinha, P. (2012). Is bt brinjal ready for future food? A critical study. Indian Journal of Biotechnology. 11, 238-249

Choudhary, B. and Gaur, K. (2009). The development and regulation of bt brinjal in india (Eggplant/aubergine). Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/india/PageFiles /446445/GE-Bt-brinjal-revisited.pdf

Encyclopedia of the Nations (2013). Philippines Agriculture. Retrieved from http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Asia-and-the-Pacific/PhilippinesAGRICULTURE.html

Fakhrul Islam, S.M. and Norton, G.W. (2007).Bt eggplant for fruit and shoot borer resistant in bangladesh. In Norton, G.W., Ramasamy, C., Selvaraj, K.N. & Vijayaraghavan, K. (Eds.), Economic and environmental benefits and costs of transgenic crops: Ex-ante assessment. Retrieved from http://www.absp2.cornell.edu/resources/books/documents/socio-economic_book.pdf

Gamboa, R.U. (2012). Field trilas of bt eggplant and biosafety regulations in the philippines. Advancing the understanding of biosafety. Retrieved from http://www.ensser.org/fileadmin/files/3.3-Gamboa.pdf

Krishna, V.V. and Qaim, M. (2007). Potential socio-economic impacts of bt eggplant on india. In

Norton, G.W., Ramasamy, C., Selvaraj, K.N. & Vijayaraghavan, K. (Eds.), Economic and environmental benefits and costs of transgenic crops: Ex-ante assessment. Retrieved from http://www.absp2.cornell.edu/resources/books/documents/socioeconomic_book.pdf

Samuels, J. (2012). Genetically engineered bt brinjal and the implications for plant biodiversity revisited. Retrieved from http://www.greenpeace.org/india/PageFiles/446445/GE-Btbrinjal- revisited.pdf