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India and Bt Brinjal/Eggplant

India has delayed the introduction of their insect resistant eggplants.

Read about it in:

How much difference a comma makes:

“It is my duty to adopt a cautious, precautionary, principle-based approach.” <– Sounds like a reasonable person dealing with vocal discontent with the genetically engineered eggplants. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh quoted in Times of India

“It is my duty to adopt a cautious, precautionary principle-based approach.” <– Irrational standard* that can never be met. Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh quoted in AP.

I don’t know what else to say about this story. Letting facts that should be settled by science becoming matters of opinion is one of the prices we pay for democracy, a form of government that’s still a head and shoulders above anything else yet discovered by modern man. Also, I totally called it:

This would seem to be the week for vegetables I hated as a kid. Yesterday was onion, today tomato, if there’s a story about brinjal/eggplant in the next few days we’ll have hit all the big ones.

*The precautionary principle as it has been quoted to me in the past: “Activities that present an uncertain potential for significant harm should be prohibited unless the proponent of the activity shows that it presents no appreciable risk of harm.” In other words, any and every action can be considered guilty until proven innocent of all accusations levels against it, and since people can come up with new accusations a lot faster than science can disprove them, it would seem that adhering to this version of the precautionary principle would mean not doing anything. Event

3 Comments

  1. Ohzee says:

    So much noise over eggplants which I doubt would do even half the damage done by the toxic spinach that you see growing next to every railway track and makes it to just about every urban household.

    1. James says:

      You’re right, there isn’t much noise about toxic spinach. I’d be interested to hear more if you get the chance. (A quick google search didn’t enlighten me further.)

      I’d guess the idea that genetically engineered plants are dangerous, though, in my view, completely false, captures the imagination in a way normal forms of food poisoning does not.

      After all, many movies come out each year with story lines that involve science that goes horribly wrong. Few if any movies have subjects like people who mistake a plant native to north america for horseradish and spend the next 24 hours vomiting.

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