Genetically Modified Eggplant Field Trials Halted by Court in Philippines

Adam Rifkin/CC BY 2.0

Not a ton of detail on this one, but the SunStar reports that the Supreme Court in the Philippines has order a halt to field trials of genetically modified eggplant, after being petitioned to do so by Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Details of the court's ruling have not yet been made publicly available, but at issue is the safety of the Bt eggplant in terms of human health. Greenpeace says "many independent scientific studies proved evidence than GMOs such as Bacillus thuringiensis eggplant, as well as Bt corn, can negatively impact the liver, kidneys or blood when ingested."

Of course, developers of Bt eggplant dispute these claims, as they dispute any possible negative environmental or health impact of their products.

Also at issue is the degree to which Bt eggplant will crossbreed with non-GM varieties of eggplant. From last week, here's what The Hindu had to say about it:

Brinjal [eggplant] relatives do occur in the regions where cultivation of GE Bt brinjal is proposed, and that GE Bt brinjal may mate with these relatives to spread the GE Bt gene. Spread of the GE Bt gene would have considerable ecological implications, as well as implications for future crop contamination and farmers' rights. Importantly, the spread of the GE Bt gene could result in the brinjal becoming an aggressive and problematic weed, the Greenpeace report suggests, while impressing upon the governments the need to employ the precautionary principle and not permit any authorization of the outdoor cultivation of GE Bt brinjal, including field trials.

Furthermore, in the case of Bt cotton in India, the effectiveness of the genetic modifications, designed so that the crop is more pest-resistant, have decreased markedly over time, so that new varieties have had to be developed.

Bt eggplant is currently being developed in India, though no field trials are yet underway, as the government of India has halted commercial planting of the crop so that more tests can be done. Monsanto has also been taken to court in India over the development of the crop, and has been accused of biopiracy.

India and the Philippines are the only two places where GM eggplant is being currently tested.

Tags: Genetically Modified Food | Philippines