You Can Do It If You Try

A Collective Thumbs Down To Bt Brinjal

Brinjal. Eggplant. Aubergine. By any name, it sure is better without the ‘Bt’ tag, or so people in India decided as they came out loud and strong to stall the introduction of Bt Brinjal in the country. And one guess where the seeds were going to come from? From Mayco-Monsanto, the local supplier of these new generation seeds which were touted as being the saviour of farmers – no more pests, higher yields, better profits….you know, the usual hyperbole. Fortunately, there are some issues where the Indian population comes out in numbers and this is one of them… if only there were more such instances!

On the face of it, it all sounds so good, so Utopian almost. A perfect world where crop infestation and diseased grains and now vegetables are a thing of the past. The thing is, when one interferes with Nature, there usually are repercussions. However, what might constitute future problems are swept under the carpet – and why not, when the company that has been in the forefront of this ‘humanitarian’ research stands to gain millions?

Let’s rewind a bit to another GMO seed that was introduced in India – Bt Cotton. In 1995, Monsanto came together with India’s Mayco to import Bt cotton seeds into India to be crossed with local varieties. They were made available in the local market in 2002 ostensibly to end the poor Indian farmer’s woes and blow the winds of prosperity across his holdings with this new pest-resistant strain. Unfortunately, while there was so much research that was going on in the government-funded agencies (where did the funding come from, one wonders?), there was little if no transparency when it came to the findings. In less than a year, the crop failed to meet farmers’ raised expectations and there were many suicides across the land, thanks to failed crops. What happened was the growth of pests – Bt-resistant bollworms in fields. Half the pesticides in the country are used against this one pest – and now, we have a resistant strain growing and spreading. The other factor of course, is the fact that these are ‘terminator’ seeds – you need to buy new seeds every time you want to plant a new crop. Which means that you once they get to you, you are chained to the company for life.

Consider this. There are more than 2000 varieties of brinjal in India and they have been grown in the country for over 4000 years – do we really want to wish them all away and replace them with a few ‘robotic’ strains? The country’s educated said ‘No’ and ‘Enough’. Suddenly, there was a huge outcry, snowballing into the Environment Minister’s office overflowing with emails, faxes, letters to stop this monstrous march to what was being termed a technological revolution. The research that had been released by the company was too sketchy and not objective to warrant its introduction without proper research. Till then, the political leaders, some of the newspapers and media channels and the companies involved were singing its praises. On January 30, the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi assassination, 100,000 people across the land went on a fast to protest. Sensing a revolution, the Environment Minister put the introduction on hold. No, the danger isn’t past as yet and we should be vigilant. All they have done is to postpone the introduction – indefinitely.

We need to do what Europe is doing. They’ve banned fabric made of GM cotton and they have always said an emphatic No to all GMO foods. How can we base the safety of the rest of our lives and the lives of future generations on research that has been funded by the company that promotes GM technology? How can we expect it not to be skewed in their favour? Awareness is the only answer and the more of us who stand up and say No when we have to, the better for the world. We can do it if we try. And when we do, we can move the world.

For an informative hub about GMOs, head to this one by Sally's Trove.

Comments 45 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

WSell done and well written hub. I fully agree with. I am always of the opinion that the power is with the people in the street. Goog Luck and hope success.

sabu singh profile image

sabu singh 6 years ago

Thanks Shalini for this timely, well-written and informative Hub. You are right-we need to stay vigilant. The pro-Bt forces have deep pockets and huge power to make things swing their way. The powers-that-be are easily influenced as you know.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi Hello,hello - yes, if only we use it and use it well! Thanks for reading.

Sabu - so we must. Money is the key to slip things in so quickly, like the case of cotton. A;ways nice to see you drop by!

Kiruba Harris 6 years ago

Great Hub. I have been following this controversy and am against BT. One wonders how much money changed hands and who stands to benefit from all this. There's always money changing hands in such things.

BkCreative profile image

BkCreative 6 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

Bravo to the people of India!

If we have any doubts about the effects of genetically modified foods you only need to look at us here in the US - where obesity is epidemic, and we have every chronic ailment with our children now being affected. And as one chef pointed out - his foods no longer have an aroma. Of course not - this is not fresh food - it is created to last forever - where's the nutrition in that? It has been created for profit only - not for health. I'm glad India is not following the US path of food destruction.

Fortunately we are catching on here in the US. Food is meant to keep us healthy, heal us and be accessible as fresh as possible. Even worse here in the US the companies are not required to tell us when the 'food' is GM - why? If it is not harmful why not label it?

I've written a hub about all the foods banned in Europe, not even considered as food in other countries - but OK to be sold in the US.

Thanks for a great hub.

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

Thank you Shalini Kagal. Very well done.

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

A most inspiring Hub about the power of numbers. One small flame may be seen in the night, but thousands will turn the night to day.

I linked to your Hub from mine on resources for understanding GMOs and BT brinjal.

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 6 years ago from India

Why brinjal, one wonders.

Jai Warren profile image

Jai Warren 6 years ago from Dallas, Deep Ellum, Texas

Your statement "There are 2000 varieties of Brinjal that have grown for 4000 years" is very powerful. Why fix something that isn't broke? Very well done, Shalini.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

K - thanks coz - a microbiologist like you would, I know, follow it closely

BkCreative - I guess it is all a matter of money - isn't it tragic that huge corporations think only about the bottom line? Yes, Europe does seem to lead the way in better checks when it comes to foods.

Sherri - I will go look - and thanks! Sorry - haven't been to HP much these past few days.

FP - vondering 'bout vhy vaangi too :D

Jai Warren - exactly! Thanks for reading.

Thank you, Micky Dee

susanlang profile image

susanlang 6 years ago

Good read... very informitive. Thanks.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Thank you, susanlang.

quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

"You are chained to the company for life" - Well this is happening all over, caused by deceptive advertising meant to trigger off a fear psychosis in the consumer, making him get hooked to the product. Too bad.

Thanks for this article, Shal. :)

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Too bad indeed - and yet, we have the power to make it change!

Always a pleasure to see you my dear quicksand :)

dohn121 profile image

dohn121 6 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

There really is no force that is stronger than the "mob." Thanks for sharing this Shalini! Great job on breaking this news to all of us.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

True Dohn - 'mob mentality' can move mountains - even of the Monsanto kind :)

tim-tim profile image

tim-tim 6 years ago from Normal, Illinois

Great hub! I love Eggplant! In fact, if you are looking for recipe, I have one for you in my hub. Thanks for sharing.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Thanks tim-tim - I'll pop over and take a look.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Shalini, An excellent hub with many interesting details.

Sandyspider profile image

Sandyspider 6 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

Great Hub.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Pamela99 - thanks for reading!

Thank you Sandyspider.

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Thanks Shalini for this well written Hub and for bringing the Bt issue to the forefront. GM foods are killers. Here we get fed it indirectly too as it's fed to livestock. Sometimes I think our dept. of agriculture and the FDA is the most dangerous government agency of all.

Cris A profile image

Cris A 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

I hope there are more people who know and think like you do for indeed it's a scary scenario you painted with the Bt cotton. Keep up the fight, my friend. :D

Tammy Lochmann profile image

Tammy Lochmann 6 years ago

I refuse to buy anything but organically grown produce and groceries. Now GMO's are threatening the organic growers crops because they are contaminated from the surrounding GMO user's crops rendering their crops no longer organic. This is a problem to me. I am so thrilled that India said no, that gives the rest of us some hope to be able to change this here.

Great article and thank you for writing it.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Green Lotus - I agree - we have the same problem of corruption in places where one would expect absolute integrity!

Cris - fortunately, it's the common man in India who has taken up the fight thanks to television making the problem known to everyone who watches. Sheer numbers always wins the day :)

Tammy - as long as there are people who are vigilant and aware like you, there will always be hope!

Thanks all for reading!

poetlorraine 6 years ago

this was an enlightening hub i so enfoyed it.

Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago

There is enough natural food without scientists needing to create artificial and unhealthy food. So many health problems have been created in recent years by these GM foods. It is time to put a stop to it.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Thanks - I appreciate you coming by, poetlorraine :)

How true Hummingbird - would that we see the food for the Bts soon!

Pollyannalana profile image

Pollyannalana 6 years ago from US

It really is so important for a countries people to stand up, take a stand and have a say. United we stand. Divided we fall!

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Yes Pollyanna - we really do have to take a stand in order to make a difference.

Jess Killmenow profile image

Jess Killmenow 6 years ago from Nowheresville, Eastern United States

Genetic engineering is so dangerous. I think that Monsanto really does not know about or care what it does. I think, too, that it boils down to the basic evil of the concept of the corporation - that soulless, faceless thing that wants to rule the world. Thank you for this characteristically well written article, Shalini

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi Jess - thanks for coming by. I agree with you - corporations seem to have ;lost their soul - not just Monsanto, one finds it's happening with every large corporation all over the globe. Tragic, isn't it?

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

What scary stuff. The smell of corrupt politicians pervades the air. I thought that this only happened in the UK. :-)

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi De Greek - I guess corrupt politicians are the same everywhere!

rebu profile image

rebu 6 years ago from Coorg,India

hi Shalini,,ur hubs are very informative..and here im ur fan..

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Rebu - thanks so much!

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 6 years ago from The Ozarks

Shalini, just the very fact that these are terminator seeds and buying and using them will cause a perpetual dependence on the supplier is a good enough reason not to use them. However, I'm curious about one thing: why was a government ban necessary? Couldn't the end users, big and small farmers alike, see what was in their own best interest? Couldn't they just choose not to buy?

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Hi Aya - no, not a ban - government approval is needed before anything can come into the country to be sold. In this case, they were falling over themselves to get it in and it's only the public outcry that has made the government defer, not stop the entry of these Bt brinjal seeds. So while one small battle has been won, the war goes on! The trouble is, once it's in, small farmers will be pressurized to use it.

Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

Tatjana-Mihaela 6 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

Great Hub. People here are so against GMO - so frightened of it that it cannot enter on the main door. But they are always some small dor somebody try to open. Well, 2 years ago, Monsanto (who else?) sent us some seeds mixed with 10% of GMO seeds (the had done "mistake"). Luckily, farmers destroyed all crops where they used that mixed seeds with blessing of government. For now, we are safe from GMO.

Thumbs up, Shalini.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Thanks for reading Tatjana - it's wonderful to read about how careful and aware people are in Europe when it comes to GM foods!

izaniee80 profile image

izaniee80 6 years ago from Malaysia

very informative one, thanks for sharing this.

izaniee80 profile image

izaniee80 6 years ago from Malaysia

very informative one, thanks for sharing this.

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 6 years ago from India Author

Thanks izaniee80.

epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...well I really just love the whole attitude of your hub universe and persona - You can do it if you try!!!

That pretty well sums it up in that title!!!!

You should become a world leader in the department of your choice - I would certainly follow someone like you - because you make me feel good about myself - I am your faithful reader!!!!!!!

Shalini Kagal profile image

Shalini Kagal 5 years ago from India Author

Oh wow - I'm walking on air! Thanks epigramman!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    More by this Author

    Click to Rate This Article