THE commercialization of biotech eggplant in the Philippines should be good news for consumers, as that vegetable can be considered oversprayed with chemicals to contain the dreaded eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB).
According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), eggplant farmers have to resort to frequent chemical spraying to contain the EFSB.
“To address this problem, many eggplant farmers in major eggplant producing areas in the Philippines and Bangladesh spray chemical insecticides every other day, or up to 80 times per growing season. The practice is unacceptable and unhealthy to consumers, farmers and the environment,” ISAAA said on its website.
ISAAA added that it is common practice of Filipino farmers to dip unharvested eggplant in a cocktail of chemicals. In India, farmers spray eggplant 20 to 40 times per crop cycle.
To remove pesticides on fruits and vegetables, the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) in India recommends simple cold water washing or dipping vegetables in a water containing 2-percent salt.
“About 75 to 80 percent of pesticide residues are removed by cold water washing. The pesticide residues that are on the surface of fruits like grapes, apples, guava, plums, mangoes, peaches and pears, and fruity vegetables like tomatoes, brinjal (eggplant ) and okra require two to three washings,” the CSE said on its website.
Also, CSE recommends blanching, a process that uses boiling water and/or its steam, to remove pesticides from fruits and vegetables.
“A short treatment in hot water or steam applied to most of the vegetables. Certain pesticides residues can effectively be removed by blanching. But before blanching, it is very important to thoroughly pre-wash the vegetables and fruits,” he said.
ISAAA said that biotech eggplant, also known as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) eggplant, has the Bt protein that can eliminate the EFSB.
After the EFSB ingests part of the biotech eggplant, the Bt toxin punctures the gut of the insect, making it unable to eat.
“The Bt toxin then punctures the gut leaving the insect unable to eat. The insect dies within a few days,” ISAAA said.
However, the same action does not happen in humans and animals, making biotech or BT eggplant safe as food and feed. Conrad M. Cariño