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Originally published July 26 2010

Indian military to weaponize hot chilies

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The Indian military has announced a plan to convert the world's hottest chili pepper into a weapon.

"The chili grenade has been found fit for use after trials in Indian defense laboratories, a fact confirmed by scientists at the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO)," said defense spokesperson Col. R. Kalia.

The government is also developing a version of the weapon for crowd-control by police and for self-defense use by women.

The weapons will be made from the bhut jolokia, also known as the "ghost chili" and acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the most potent chili in the world. The potency of the bhut jolokia measures more than one million Scoville units, compared with the 2,500 to 8,000 Scoville units of the typical jalapeno pepper, or the 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units of Classic Tabasco sauce.

The peppers are grown and predominantly consumed in northeast India, and are also used as a cure for stomach problems. They are small, wrinkled and deep maroon in color, resembling prunes. Their flesh is so potent that it can burn the skin, forcing farmers, grocers and chefs to handle them with gloves on.

"This is definitely going to be an effective nontoxic weapon because its pungent smell can choke terrorists and force them out of their hide-outs," R. B. Srivastava, the director of the DRDO's Life Sciences Department in New Delhi.

But chili broker Ashit Mehta questioned the government's characterization of the pepper as non-toxic, calling for rigorous safety tests on the aftereffects of exposure to weaponized bhut jolokia. In contrast to tear gas, which produces "only ... this eye burning sensation," the ghost chili can burn the skin itself, he said. Although people who are used to consuming and handling the pepper can tolerate it in small amounts, its effect on most people is far more severe.

"People should not get burned," he said. "Normal people will have a lot of problems."

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