Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brinjal and height of man.

The first thing that strikes me on hearing the name Bt Brinjal (Bacillus Thuringiensis Brinjal) is that
- of all the crops why brinjal was genetically modified?

The next thing I ask myself is
- is it possible to genetically modify this short plant into a tall plant?

I ask this because there is an expression in Hindu Thought (though I can not quote the source) that the day man climbs the Brinjal plant using a ladder, the world will come to an end. It means that Deluge will be at the door step and the world (mankind) will be at the brink of a clean wipe-out.

Whenever I hear this or think of this, I used to dismiss this as a meaningless expression. The brinjal plant is after all 25 to 30 inches high. How could man become very small - shorter than a brinjal plant, even if it is assumed that man would progressively (!) grow shorter with times; and if man were to become so short, is there enough time for such a transformation? Would the world be there for that long to see man to become of such height?

But Bt Brinjal exposes a different probability. Thinking of what genetic engineering does, I am afraid that a day may come when brinjal may be modified to grow taller than man so that man may have to use a ladder to pluck its fruits!

The strange coincidence of brinjal becoming subject to genetic modification (or man's interest in so doing) and the Hindu belief connecting Deluge to the height of brinjal causes some concern in me.

There are many opposing voices in India to Bt brinjal on the side effects of it.
In addition to them, I have the above concern also to reject any effort to genetically modify edible items of Nature.

On the issue of pest resistance, India has had indigenous wisdom of controlling them. Brihat Samhita of Varaha mihira contains a chapter on gardening in which cheap and natural methods of pest control are discussed in addition to methods to increase the yield. As usual our people will disregard them until a foreigner experiments them and claims a patent.

The traditional sowing rules based on the star of the day counted from the star in which Rahu is posited also help in avoiding pests. It can be read in this link.

Rahu - a guide to agriculturists

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