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India's new terror weapon: Hot chili peppers

Defense officials in India say they're going to use the bhut jolokia, the world's hottest chili pepper, to make tear-gas grenades in their war on terrorism.

Video screenshot by Tim Hornyak/CNET

The Indian military plans to weaponize the bhut jolokia, the world's hottest chili pepper, by using it in tear-gas grenades against terrorists, defense officials there have announced.

The notorious pepper from Bangladesh and northeast India, also known as the "ghost chili," is ranked by Guinness World Records as the most piquant of peppers. It has more than 1 million Scoville heat units, way beyond tabasco and jalapeno peppers, which pack 2,500 to 8,000 units.

"This is definitely going to be an effective non-toxic weapon because its pungent smell can choke terrorists and force them out of their hideouts," RB Srivastava, director of the life sciences department at the Defense Research and Development Organization, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying.

The Indian military has been testing the chili pepper to fight militants, and it is also undergoing trials to create defensive sprays to be used by women and police. The ghost chili gets its power from capsaicin, a chemical compound synthesized by chilis apparently to defend against microbes, fungi, and herbivores. Birds, however, are immune to the pepper heat and can eat them, dispersing their seeds.

Here's a vid of some guy in Hawaii eating a bhut jolokia. It's unclear if he ended up in the ER, but he's definitely in rough shape.