Crop Biotech Update

Mahyco Receives Seed Production Approval for Bt Brinjal

June 27, 2008

As a penultimate step in regulatory procedure for commercialization of GM crops, the Government of India through its biotechnology regulatory body (GEAC) has approved experimental seed production of Bt brinjal (eggplant) hybrids to Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (Mahyco). Mahyco, a leading seed company in India has been at the forefront in successfully introducing cutting-edge-biotech-products i.e. Bt cotton hybrids. The GEAC has permitted experimental seed production of seven Bt brinjal hybrids namely MHB-4 Bt, MHB-9 Bt, MHB-10 Bt, MHB-11 Bt, MHB-80 Bt and MHB-99 Bt at Mahyco's fields at Jalna, Maharashtra in the coming Kharif season 2008. The seeds shall be produced under the strict supervision of Director Horticulture Research or Director Research of the State Agriculture University with a view to facilitate the monitoring and supervision mechanism as stipulated by the GEAC.

The new hybrid Bt brinjal variety contains cry1Ac gene (EE1 event developed indigenously by Mahyco), which makes the crop resistant to the Fruit and Shoot Borer (FSB). A major constraint in brinjal production, the pest can cause significant yield loss and reduce the number of marketable fruits. Farmers often resort to intensive use of pesticides to control the FSB. The FSB resistant varieties have been evaluated for their agronomic performance, safety and efficacy in controlling FSB and their effect on beneficial insects in Mahyco and Indian Institute of Vegetable Research (IIVR). The FSBR variety is expected to give higher yields with less pesticide use. Mahyco has already transferred this technology to public sector institutions not only in India but also to public sector institutions in Bangladesh and the Philippines.

Decision taken by the GEAC regarding approval of Bt Brinjal seed production at: http://www.envfor.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/decision-june-85.pdf Bt Brinjal safety dossier is also available on GEAC website at: http://www.envfor.nic.in/divisions/csurv/geac/information_brinjal.htm For more information about biotech development in India contact: b.choudhary@isaaa.org