Genetic modification

This page provides vital information for Indian citizens on the science of genetically modified crops including Bt brinjal, particularly in the context of the 10 June civil disobedience program by farmers ( #KisanSatyagraha) (posters used)

2-PAGE HANDOUT: PDF version Word version 


The 2010 moratorium on Bt brinjal must go before 10 June 2019

Yes, there is evidence that Bt brinjal is 100 per cent safe (Part I) | (Part II) [Combined Word document - the original article, here

Civil Disobedience in Akot, Akola, 11 June 2019


a) Regulatory validation/ approval of Bt brinjal

Indian regulator's validation of Bt brinjal safety (GEAC minutes, 2009) (short PDF document)

Bangladesh government's confirmation of safety of Bt brinjal (Bangladesh approved Bt brinjal in 2013)

A scientific critique of the Indian moratorium by C. Kameswara Rao (PDF document)

Bt Eggplant Project in Bangladesh: History, Present Status, and Future Direction - Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology

Bt eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) in Bangladesh: Fruit production and control of eggplant fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis Guenee), effects on non-target arthropods and economic returns (PLOS ONE)

Twitter debate between CS Prakash and Kavitha Kuruganti

b) Strong support by Environmental Protection Agency, USA

Environmental Protection Agency (USA)'s validation of Bt-protein safety (PDF document). 

c) The reason the studies that allegedly find "harms" are IRRELEVANT

In brief, Bt proteins (insecticidal crystal proteins) are safe to human beings, other mammals and all other non-target organisms. Vast body of scientific information is available on this aspect. (Bacillus thuringiensis: Biology, Ecology and Safety by Travis R. Glare and Maureen O'Callaghan, 2000. Wiley; ISBN: 978-0-471-49630. The biosafety of the product of Cry 1Ac  gene that is present in Bt brinjal has been thoroughly proven by half a century of research. Only those studies that involve the purified product of the gene are relevant in the discussion of the safety of Bt brinjal for consumption. Studies that use the whole cells of Bacillus thuringiensis, not just the Cry 1Ac gene, but some 120 pesticidal genes, are NOT VALID. In such cases all the contents and products of the bacteriual cells and or spores, including those of the cell walls get involved, are studied in a combined manner, but any of them can have an adverse effect. Unless the products are isolated, purified and tested for effects on human system they cannot be taken as an evidence. Hundreds of compounds whose individual effects are not known cannot be used simultaneously in a scientific evaluation. But even whole cells are generally safe in small quantities - Bt cells containing crystal proteins and spores have been in use even in organic farming for a century without any reported harmful effect. [See critique of the Mezzomo et al study]

d) Also see these documents/ video to understand better: 
Brief: The Developmnet and Regulation of Bt Brinjal in India - Bhagirath Choudhary and Kadambini Gaur (PDF, 119 pages)

Bt-brinjal (eggplant) - Some clarifications (Word document by TN Manjunath)

Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh: The First Genetically Engineered Food Crop in a Developing Country - PDF- book chapter

The Status of Commercialised Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh (PDF).

And these International Service for the Acquistion of Agri-biotech Applications handouts (PDF): in Hindi | in Marathi  (in other languages)

On this topic of Bt brinjal, this video is worth watching from 3 minutes 10 seconds:

And this:

Also see: Know the Reason Behind Bt Brinjal’s Popularity in Bangladesh - Krishjagran


List of approved GMOs across the world

All major science organisatsions and international organisations support GMOs, e.g.  World Health Organisation 


An excellent introduction in Nature journal: Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): Transgenic Crops and Recombinant DNA Technology

Specific Issues Confronting Development, Biosecurity Regulation and Deployment of Genetically Engineered Crops - C Kameswara Rao (book chapter, 2015) PDF

Role of transgenic Bt-crops in promoting biological control and integrated pest management -T.M.Manjunath (PDF). See also Word document: Selected publications of T M. Manjunath on Transgenic Crops

Q&A on Bt-Cotton in India: Answers to more than 85 questions (PDF)- by T.M. Manjunath


GM Crops: Perception vs Reality by T. M. Manjunath & K. S. Mohan (short PDF booklet)

Genetically engineered crops in India: A Gordian Knot Needing An Alexandrian Solution - C Kameswara Rao and Seetharam Annadana (2014) PDF

GM plants: Questions and answers - by the UK Royal Society (PDF document)

Important video: Television debate (2000) between Vandana Shiva and C.S. Prakash (including the transcript and analysis)

Misinformation is the only poison: the end of the Seralini Affair? - Gminfo.eu

Scientific Answers to Fears about GMOs: Safe, Nutritious, and Demonized

The Debate About GMO Safety Is Over, Thanks To A New Trillion-Meal Study [The field data represented more than 100 billion animals covering a period before 1996 when animal feed was 100% non-GMO, and after its introduction when it jumped to 90% and more. The documentation included the records of animals examined pre and post mortem, as ill cattle cannot be approved for meat. What did they find? That GM feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed.] 

Opposed to G.M.O.s? How Much Do You Know About Them? [People who are the most extremely opposed to genetically modified organisms tend to know the least about them, the study found].

A 2014 change.org petition that contains valuable info ("Please allow scientific field testing of GM crops in India")

Support High-Yielding GE Mustard Technology!!

Use of Brinjal in Alternative Systems of Medicine in India - C Kameswara Rao (2011) - PDF


India's GM crop success (This talks about Bt cotton) - by Bjørn Lomborg

GM crops in India: Products in the pipeline as of 2012 - T.M. Manjunath (PDF)  Also see this FAO list.

The science is in: GM crops will save the world – by Rachel Cunliffe

If you care about the future of our planet, here’s why you should support GMOs

A protester’s change of heart sheds light on the public’s reservations about genetic engineering (Review of the book Seeds of Science by Mark Lynas, who changed from an anti-GM activist to a pro-GM activist)

The GMO-Suicide Myth

The real GM food scandal

The legal battle over field trials of GM crops - Shashi Kumar, Raj K. Bhatnagar, Keshab R. Kranthi, Swapan K. Datta


Time  |  Scientific American | New York Times


Nutrient Biofortification of Staple Food Crops: Technologies, Products and Prospects - by Chavali Kameswara Rao1 and Seetharam Annadana (PDF)

Bt and related technologies can be introduced into any variety or hybrid, just like the Intel chip can go into any laptop or PC. So if a variety or a hybrid of brinjal was not being actively used by farmers previously because of its susceptibility to stem borers, with Bt it can be revived because it may have other beneficial traits. Therefore more varieties and hybrids of brinjal can be produced, giving farmers and consumers a diversity of choice. Many traditional varieties have been actually lost due to minor adverse traits, such as their inability to fight BLB, Bacterial Sheath Blight, Tungro virus, blast or those susceptible to pests or had high lodging characterstics. Genetic engineering can breed out these weaknesses, allowing many forgotten varieties to be revived.  In addition, overall ecological biodiversity is enhanced through intense farming which increases productivity and reduces the need to cut down of forests that would otherwise convert into agriculture. In this regard see Chapter III on Biodiversity. This means that biological control agents (parasitoids and predators) are also diversified and can play an enhanced role in pest control (especially sucking pests) due to drastic reduction in spraying chemical insecticides. Several scientific references are available on the role of Bt crops in promoting biocontrol and integrated pest management.

For instance, prior to Bt cotton, there were only a handful of cotton hybrids. Now, there are 1065 Bt cotton varieties provided by 65 seed companies. Due to reduced pesticide usage, there is now much greater biodiversity even of natural predators. 

Farmers' direct experience: Ravichandran Vanchinathan, a farmer of Bt cotton has reported this: "In the non Bt cotton era, I used to spray chemicals at least twice a week, including to control boll worms. The pesticide industry were monetarily rewarded by boll worms while farmers harvested frustration. These chemicals eradicated all insect predators like lady bird beetle, spiders, dragon fly, crysopa. Honeybees were also eliminated. Now I spray just twice, that too to control the sucking pest. As a result, today I see lot of honeybees humming and ladybird beetle fluttering in my field. Thus I'm satisfied that by growing Bt cotton I am able to maintain the biodiversity in my field." And see another farmer's perspective, here (farmer GS Mann).


How Bt Cotton Transformed Cotton Farming In India  [In 2002, India had a world production share of 12%, by 2015 it was 25%, making India the largest producer of the crop in the world. In 2002 India exported no cotton. Today it exports 25% of its production]

Bt-cotton: It is time to stop the false allegations!


Types of Bt seeds being planted across India


Prior to the civil disobedience

India gives go-ahead to GM crops - New Scientist, 28 March 2002

Pro-GM farmers stage protest near Parliament - DowntoEarth, 4 July 2015

Monsanto patent victory seen as a boost for biotech investment in India - Reuters, 8 January 2019

Monsanto won patent victory over GM cotton seeds in India - Financial World, 10 January 2019

These Indian farmers are using Whatsapp and Facebook to demand GM seeds technology - Theprint, 30 May 2019

Seek freedom from norms that restrict farmer access to tech - The Free Press Journal, 6 June 2019

Farmers body plans to defy ban on GM brinjal, cotton - Times of India, 8 June 2019 [Image]

Thousands to risk jail, Rs 1 lakh fine at world’s first farmer stir in favour of GM crops, The Print, 8 June 2019

Bt Brinjal: Activists slam regulatory body for inaction against illegal cultivation, Down To Earth, 7 June 2019

The hurricane of Bt brinjal (in Marathi, by Ajit Narde)

Maha ‘satyagraha’ in support of Haryana farmers harassed for growing GM crops - The Tribune, 9 June 2019

Don’t penalise farmers for pro-GM crop protest, address their concerns instead - ThePrint 9 June 2019

Maharashtra farmers to sow GM brinjal, cotton seeds to defy ban - Livemint 9 June 2010

5,000 farmers in Maharashtra to sow genetically modified seeds of brinjal, cotton to protest ban on such crops – Firstpost, 9 June 2019

Maharashtra Farmers to Protest Ban on GM Crops, Plant Bt Cotton and Brinjal -  The Wire, 10 June 2010

M crops: Maha farmers to hold satyagraha today – The Tribune 10 June 2019

GM Crops: Centre Should Restructure GEAC, Order Detailed Study On Food Safety, Swarajya magazine 10 June 2019

Report in the Pioneer (PDF) 10 June 2019

After the civil disobedience

Defying Law, Indian Farm Group Says It Planted Unapproved GM Cotton Seeds, New York Times 10 June 2019

Defying law: Indian farm group says it planted unapproved genetically modified cotton seeds – Economic Times 10 June 2019

Ryots sow seeds of defiance – The Hindu 10 June 2019

Indian farmers plant GMO seeds in civil disobedience ‘satyagraha’ protest - Alliance for Science, Cornell University, 10 June 2019

Maharashtra farmers defy ban to plant GM cotton - Hindu Business Line, 10 June 2019

‘Don’t want subsidies, just tech’: Farmers plant GM cotton in Maharashtra, defy crop ban - ThePrint, 10 June 2019 - one of the best articles on the topic

Maha farmers protest GM crop ban, sow Bt cotton, brinjal - PTI news, 10 June 2019

Press release by Shetkari Sanghatna: 1500 Farmers Sow HTBt Cotton and Bt Brinjal, Assert Their Right To GM Seeds - 10 June 2019

Why govt’s GM policy defers logic, hurts farmers - Financial Express 11 June 2019

A farmer satyagraha for permission-less innovation – Shruti Rajagopalan, LiveMint, 11 June 2019.

'Civil disobedience': Group says it planted unapproved GM cotton seeds – Business Standard, 10 June 2019

Maha farmers protest GM crop ban, sow Bt cotton, brinjal - Business Standard, 10 June 2019

'Maharashtra farmers will fight ban on GM seeds' - Business Standard 11 June 2019

Defying Ban, Farmers in Maharashtra Protest by Sowing Bt Cotton – The Wire, 11 June 2019

1,500 farmers defy GM crop ban - Mumbai Mirror, 11 June 2019

Maharashtra farmers defy ban, plant HT cotton in Akot - Financial Express 11 June 2019

Farmers demand herbicide-resistant Bt cotton seeds in Maharashtra - The Telegraph, 11 June 2019

Agriculture Department raids Shetkari Sanghatana leader’s house - The Hindu 11 June 2019

‘Civil disobedience’ in Maharashtra: Farmers launch protest seeking govt nod to GM crops - Indian Express 11 June 2019

'Maharashtra farmers will fight ban on GM seeds' - Outlook, 11 June 2019

Maharashtra farmer defies govt, sows illegal GM seeds  - Times of India, 11 June 2019

War over HT Bt cotton: Officials collect seed samples from farmers in Akola - Financial Express 11 June 2019

Protest against Centre’s ban on GM crops gains momentum - Hindu Business Line, 11 June 2019

10% of India’s 12.2 million cotton hectares came from illegal GMO seeds in 2018 - Genetic Literacy Project, 11 June 2019

Maharashtra farmers' group agitates for 'freeing' GM seeds, but illegal varieties are rampant in India - Firstpost, 11 June 2019

Maharashtra farmers’ union defies govt ban, sows GM brinjal, cotton - Cocengis, 11 June 2019

HTBT cotton widely cultivated despite ban, finds Central team - Hindu Business Line, 12 June 2019

Cops reach farm for HT seed, return empty handed  - Times of India 12 June 2019

Centre asks Maharashtra govt to investigate illegal cultivation of Bt cotton - Financial Express, 12 June 2019

Despite ban, Indian farmers plant HTBT cotton; experts blame nexus between politicians, seed firms behind availability of illegal crop - Firstpost, 13 June 2019

Maharashtra farmers’ body to sow HT Cotton to defy ban on GM crops - Financial Express 13 June 2019

2 more Maharashtra farmers sow GM cotton, say it’s their ‘civil disobedience movement’ - ThePrint, 13 June 2019

A "Surgical Strike" by farmers (in Marathi) - Agrovan, Sakal, 14 June 2019 [Image file]

Probe sowing of banned GM seeds by farmers in Akola, Centre tells Maharashtra - The Hindu, 14 June 2019

Indian Farmers Launch Civil Disobedience Campaign to Secure Access to GM Seeds - Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, 14 June 2019