Today, Wednesday, the EU Commission is presenting new plans for dealing with genetic engineering in agriculture. It's about relaxing the existing rules. The goal of deregulation is, among other things, that new plants that are more resistant to water shortages or pests are used more quickly. Scientists have been pushing for a long time to relax the strict EU rules for so-called green genetic engineering. This article on green genetic engineering first appeared in August 2021 in our stern sister magazine "Gesund Leben". It has been updated.
The place where fear and hope collide is in the fertile north of India. It is a wide, flat country divided into small fields; seen from above, the state of Haryana is a mosaic of greens and browns.
It is a hot morning in May 2019 when officials from the Department of Agriculture surround one of these fields. They have powerful tractors with them. They immediately begin to destroy the half-hectare field. The farmer didn't cultivate any drugs there, and he didn't bury any weapons either. He did what is actually a matter of course in this area: planted aubergines. The fruits, here called brinjal, are an important food. Cultivating them is like a gamble: Insects regularly attack the plants, burrow into the leaves and through the soft flesh. To prevent this, the farmers apply insecticides with backpack sprayers, without protective clothing, 70 to 80 times a season. In bad years, the aubergine fruit borer still destroys up to 70 percent of your harvest.
Word has long got around in Haryana that tens of thousands of farmers in neighboring Bangladesh are growing an aubergine variety whose fruits are resistant to pests. Stories of record harvests are doing the rounds, pesticides are said to have become superfluous.
Access to all STERN PLUS content and articles from the print magazine