Several leading international scientists have warned the Prime Minister of Bangladesh about the dangers of GM eggplant (Bt brinjal).
Prof. David Andow is one of the experts who has contacted the Bangladeshi PM. David Andow is Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Insect Ecology at the University of Minnesota and an acknowledged international expert on the environmental risks of GM crop plants. You can read the authoritative environmental appraisal of Bt brinjal he undertook in an Indian context here: http://gmwatch.org/files/Andow_Report_Bt_Brinjal.pdf
Prof. Andow found among other things that, "most of the possible environmental risks of Bt brinjal have not been adequately evaluated; this includes risks to local varieties of brinjal and wild relatives, risks to biological diversity, and risk of resistance evolution.."
Say no to Bt brinjal, scientists request PM
New Age (Bangladesh), 29 August 2013
Several international scientists have in two letters requested the prime minister not to allow cultivation of untested Bt brinjal in Bangladesh.
In two letters to prime minister Sheikh Hasina, 12 scientists said that the Bt brinjal would cause unprecedented health hazards to the people as there has been no adequate safety testing of the genetically modified crop for human consumption.
The Bt brinjal may have negligible benefits but would pose enormous hazards to human health, they said.
They also sent the copies of the letters to agriculture minister Matia Chowdgury and environment and forest minister Hasan Mahmud.
On August 21, David Schubert, professor at Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, sent a letter on the issue to the prime minister, also signed by 11 other scientists.
The signatories include professor Michael Antoniu of gene expression and therapy group at King’s College, London School of Medicine; professor Susan Bardoczu of human nutrition and GMO expert of the rural development of Hungary; former founder-director of centre for cellular and molecular biology in Hyderabad Pushpa M Bhargava; Australian scientist Judy Carman; professor Jack A Heinemann of centre for integrated research in bio-safety at University of Canterbury; world food prize laureate professor Hans R Herren; senior Swiss scientist Angelika Hilbeck; senior lecturer at Auckland University, Robert Mann; protein chemist and professor Arpad Pusztai; and professor Gilles Eric Seralini, from France.
On August 15, David Andow, professor of Insect Ecology of McKnight University, sent the second letter to Prime minister Hasina.
Unnayan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona, a development alternative policy research institution, with permission from the scientists, made the contents of the letters available to the media on Wednesday.
UBINIG executive director Farida Akhter told reporters that though India imposed an indefinite moratorium on commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal and the Philippines Supreme Court banned its field trial in the Philippines, Bangladesh was heading to allow its commercial cultivation.
Bt Brinjal is risky for environment, its production cost is higher and it will make the growers dependent on a single seed company, she said.
Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute has already applied to the agriculture ministry for its use at the growers’ level without any research on the impact on human health and environment, she said.
Replying to a question, Farida Akhter said the scientists being concerned over the issue after reading newspaper reports contacted UBINIG as it's a filed writ petition challenging the government move to provide the risky genetically modified brinjal seeds to farmers.
Farida said UBINIG took permission from the international scientists before making the contents of their letters public.
Bangladesh is a "target" country for the Bt Brinjal under the Monsanto Technology, a joint venture with Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company of India, UBINIG officials said.
The Bt brinjal is created by inserting a crystal protein gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus Thuringiensis into the genome of various brinjal cultivars.