Genetically modified BT Brinjal farming was introduced in Bangladesh in 2014 saying it to be fruit and shoot borer pest resistant but studies done by International Food Policy Research Institute revealed that it is susceptible to FSB besides other pests.
The studies done by the IFPRI in 2017 and 2018 revealed that at least 10.6 per cent of the BT brinjal crop was infested with fruit and shoot borer, 47.1 per cent with leaf eating beetles, 49.3 per cent with thrips, white fly, jassid and aphids while 35.7 per cent with mites, mealy or leaf wing bugs or leaf roller.
The findings were unveiled at a workshop jointly organized by the ministry of agriculture, IFPRI and USAID at a posh hotel in the capital Wednesday.
Another study jointly conducted by the ministry of agriculture and the IFPRI found that farmers had to spray pesticides on their BT brinjal crop for 10-15 times but for 16 to 25 times on local brinjal varieties.
Krishi Gobeshona Foundation executive director and former executive chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Wais Kabir said that BT technology was adopted in Bangladesh after India and the Philippines rejected it.
He said BT brinjal was being sold to consumers in Bangladesh in a dubious way without tagging labels to deprive the consumers their right to know what they were consuming.
He also expressed fears that the BT gene could be cross pollinated with other crops unless Bt brinjal crops were properly segregated from the other crops.
Chairing the technical session, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development executive director and International Growth Centre country director Imran Matin said governance and regulation were essential prerequisites for cropping BT brinjal.
He said that new biotechnology ‘should be adapted only for ensuring safe and nutritious food to our future generations.’
Inaugurating the workshop, agriculture minister Abdur Razzaque said, ‘Let me clarify, we don’t find any problem with BT Brinjal and described GM technology adaptation as ‘a success story of the government despite opposition from different quarters.’
On the sidelines of the workshop he told reporters, ‘Bangladesh expects to export GM corps side by side other crops.’
He skipped replying to how he would tackle refusal of Europe to import GM foods.
He also declined to comment asked why the government allows marketing BT brinjal without using labels though made mandatory by National Biosafety Committee.
Participants at the open session said that BT brinjal was marketed in West Bengal, India, as organic crop and that BT brinjal seeds were being smuggled out of Bangladesh.
The genetically modified Bt brinjal was developed by US seed multinational Monsanto, and its Indian affiliate Mahyco.
Bt brinjal cultivation was introduced in Bangladesh and India and the Philippines banned its cropping.
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