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Genetic Engineering: Genetically Modified Plant

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Discuss about the Genetic Engineering for Genetically Modified Plant.




The year of 1946 lead to the discovery of the process of DNA transmission between two organisms (James, 2011). The discovery of the DNA transmission concept lead to the foundation of first genetically modified (GM) plant in the year of 1983 via employing antibiotic-resistant tobacco plant. In the domain of commercial crop, China can be regarded as the first country to commercialize the transgenic crop during early 1990s via the introduction of the virus resistant tobacco gene (Séralini et al., 2011). Year of 1994 experienced the introduction of the Flavour Saver Tomato, as FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved for its marketing is USA (Séralini et al., 2011). This report sheds light on the debate of the whether genetically engineered BT brinjal is unfit for consumption.


Need for the Production of BT Brinjal

The production of BT brinjal took place in India and the main concept behind the production of the BT brinjal is to cut short the harmful effects of the pesticides over the crop plant (Bandopadhyay, Sinha & Chaudhary, 2012). It is well known that the farmers often loos a huge amount of crops or vegetables due to the attack of insects. In order to reduce the pest attack there are pesticides. Although it was successful in providing temporary relief, but the economic burden over the framers was high. On the other hand, the end consumers have no choices but to thrive on the insect damaged fruits or crops which are high on pesticide content. Brinjal is highly susceptible for insect attack and since in India and other neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, China and Myanmar, Brinjal was one of the most edible vegetables, scientists planned to frame a transgenic brinjal which is shielded from the pesticide attack (Bawa & Anilakumar, 2013). This concept leads to the foundation of the BT Brinjal.

The Transgenic Mechanism behind the Production of BT Brinjal

BT Brinjal is a transgenic brinjal developed via insertion of the transgenic gene (cry 1Ac gene). cry 1Ac gene encodes for the insecticidal protein, which confers resistance against the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) (Banerji, 2010). The cry 1Ac gene is derived from the Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), an ubiquitous soil bacterium. It has been frequently used for several biological control measures against the FSB via mixing in granular powder. The insertion of the BT gene occurs inside the cell of the young cotyledons of the brinjal and is facilitated by the use of the agro bacterium vector mediated transgenesis. Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), a leading Indian seed company, has designed a new DNA construct to aid the process of transgenesis. This gene construct contain the cry1 Ac gene along with two other supporting genes namely nptll and aad genes. These genes are arranged in such a way that they express in tandem to produce insecticidal protein. The transcription of the cry 1Ac gene is further enhanced via expressing it under the influence of the CaMV35S promoter (P-E35S).

The gene construct used of BT brinjal

Figure: The gene construct used of BT brinjal

(Source: Banerji, 2010)

Utility of BT Brinjal

The utility of the BT Brinjal lies in several spheres of cultivation. BT brinjal thus produced via transgeneis required negligible or nor use of the pesticides and thus reduce the environmental impact of the harmful pesticides. Moreover, less use of the pesticides promote less exposure of pesticides, leading to reduced level of human pesticide poisoning. The cultivation of the BT brinjal also showed favourable response in the increase in the crop yield thus facilitating the farmers economically. It also reduces the amount of pesticide residues on the food.

The benefits of BT Brinjal

Figure: The benefits of BT Brinjal

Source: Created by author

Limitation of the Transgenic Process

Process limitation

Gene Exchange is only possible between closely related species

Time quotient

It takes significant amount of time in order to achieve the desired results

Less chance of positive results

There is less chance of obtaining accurate cross

Undesired gene transmission

Harmful or faulty gene may get transmitted with the gene of interest due to lack of the precision of the site specific recombination

Gene Loss

Even after successful transmission, the gene gets lost due to the random recombination between the parent gene (Holme, Wendt & Holm, 2013)

Harmful Effects of the BT Brinjal

According to the professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, a French scientist of the Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering (CRIIGEN), the BT Brinjal though scoring high in terms of the pesticide control activity, impose a serious threat to the health of both human and animal (De Vendômois et al., 2010).

Health Impact

BT brinjal produce a special protein the vegetative cell that generates antibiotic resistance within the body (Verma et al., 2011). This generation of the antibiotic resistance is considered as the major health care problem and it extremely significant in the of the Multi Drug Resistant (MDR) bacteria. BT brinjal contain 15% less calories and a completely different alkaloid pattern than that of the non-genetically modified brinjal. However, it contains 16 to 17 mg/Kg of BT insecticide toxin. This BT toxin hampers the equilibrium of the blood corpuscles leading to the difficulty in blood clotting (prothrombin) and total bilirubin (health of the liver) (Francisco, 2014).

Effects on Rat

Effect on Cow

Effect on Birds

Effect on Fish

The safety quotient of BT brinjal when tested over rat, it experienced diarrhoea, increase in the rate of water consumption and decreases in the weight of liver.

The effect of BT brinjal on the lactating cows showed increase in the appearance of the BT toxin in the milk and in the blood. However, the cows feeding on BT brinjal showed greater production of milk when kept on low hormone therapy (Chong, 2015)

The effect of BT brinjal consumption on broiler chickens showed decreased in their food consumption along with increase in the blood sugar level

The average food conversion and the efficiency ratios were significantly high on the BT brinjal consuming fishes

Debate of the BT Brinjal

Keeping the health hazards in mind, there are several controversies associated with the GM BT brinjal in several levels. The dilemma is whether food produced is safe or whether it should be labelled. Many problems came into consideration while using GM crops like BT brinjal; the first and foremost ethical problem which surface was “tampering with mother nature”. The other associated problems include health concerns faced by the consumers upon consumption of the food, evolution of the pesticide resistant pest like super bugs. Another major fact, which came into consideration, is, whether this pesticide resistant nature of the genetically modified brinjal can be passed on the weeds (Shah, 2011). If the pest resistant characteristic of the crops is transferred to their weedy relatives, then it may lead to the increases in the amount of weed in the cultivating field, imposing a series threat to the farmers (Shah, 2011). This dilemma led to serious controversies behind the acceptance of the BT brinjal in the market.




Integration of the cry1Ac gene into brinjal hybrids

2001 to 2002

Development of the efficacy of the BT brinjal

2002 to 2004

Confined trials over the field to study the pollen flow, weediness and germination


Approval for the multi-location trails over the seven different BT hybrids


The data obtained via trail was submitted to the review committee


Recommendation of the large scale trial


Supreme court of India bans the trial due to the possible threat on the mankind


Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR) gets approval for the trial


IIVR submits the large scale trial data but stakeholders raise the concerns against the validity and the safety of the crop


In response to the strong view against the crop, the release of the BT brinjal was upheld

Table: Chronology of the Legal Journey of BT Brinjal in India

(Source: Bt-Brinjal: Production and Its Development India, 2017)


The GM crops have immense potential to solve several problems in the world like malnutrition and hunger while reducing the dependence on the synthetic pesticides and herbicides. However, there lie several challenges in successful implementation of the genetically modified crops in the market. The challenges include threats to the human health, environmental impact, regulation of the ethical and governmental policies and proper food labelling. Many scientists are of the opinion that the genetic engineering is an inevitable trend in the future because the technology is brimmed with surplus benefits which one cannot in ignore. The genetically modified BT brinjal was designed in order to decrease the chances of cultivation damage arising out of the over use of the pesticides and herbicides. However, quality testing revealed significant health and environmental impacts. So from the above discussion it can be concluded that the BT brinjal is unfit for human consumption. Moreover, considerable efforts are required to be directed towards the understanding of the people’s attitudes towards this gene technology.



Bandopadhyay, R., Sinha, P., & Chaudhary, B. (2012). Is Bt-brinjal ready for future food?--A critical study. Indian Journal of Biotechnology, 11(2), 238-240.

Banerji, D. (2010). Bt brinjal and GM crops: towards a reasonable policy ahead. Current Science, 99(10), 1319.

Bawa, A. S., & Anilakumar, K. R. (2013). Genetically modified foods: safety, risks and public concerns—a review. Journal of food science and technology, 50(6), 1035-1046.

Bt-Brinjal: Production and Its Development | India. (2017). Biology Discussion. Retrieved 14 October 2017, from

Chong, M. (2005). Perception of the risks and benefits of Bt eggplant by Indian farmers. Journal of Risk Research, 8(7-8), 617-634.

De Vendômois, J. S., Cellier, D., Vélot, C., Clair, E., Mesnage, R., & Séralini, G. E. (2010). Debate on GMOs health risks after statistical findings in regulatory tests. International journal of biological sciences, 6(6), 590.

Francisco, S. R. (2014). Health and Environmental Impacts of Bt Eggplant. Socioeconomic impacts of Bt eggplant, 233.

Holme, I. B., Wendt, T., & Holm, P. B. (2013). Intragenesis and cisgenesis as alternatives to transgenic crop development. Plant Biotechnology Journal, 11(4), 395-407.

James, C. (2011). Global Status of Commercialized Biotech/GM Crops. International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA).

Seetharam, S. (2010). Should the Bt Brinjal controversy concern healthcare professionals and bioethicists.

Séralini, G. E., Mesnage, R., Clair, E., Gress, S., De Vendômois, J. S., & Cellier, D. (2011). Genetically modified crops safety assessments: present limits and possible improvements. Environmental Sciences Europe, 23(1), 10.

Shah, E. (2011). 'Science'in the Risk Politics of Bt Brinjal. Economic and Political Weekly, 31-38.

Verma, C., Nanda, S., K Singh, R., B Singh, R., & Mishra, S. (2011). A review on impacts of genetically modified food on human health. The Open Nutraceuticals Journal, 4(1).


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