More than 10% of Bt brinjal infested with pest it's meant to kill; nearly half infested with other pests
The Cornell Alliance for Science's GMO promoter Mark Lynas should be ashamed of his hyping of this failed GMO crop to poor farmers.
BT brinjal vulnerable to FSB pest: IFPRI study
New Age, Mar 6,2019
* Bangladesh wants to export GMO crops, says minister
A study has found that the genetically modified BT brinjal is vulnerable to eggplant fruit and shoot borer.
Earlier the eggplant was described as resistant to fruit and shoot borer pest, Leucinodes orbonalis, during its initiation in Bangladesh.
The genetically modified brinjal was also found with infested by other pests susceptible to other local varieties of brinjals, said the study of International Food Policy Research Institute conducted in 2017-18.
The study has also found that at least 10.6 per cent of BT brinjal are infested with fruit and shoot borer.
Leaf eating beetles infest 47.1 per cent BT brinjals, the percentage was 49.3 for the thrips, white fly, jassid and aphids while it was 35.7 per cent for mites, mealy or leaf wing bugs or leaf roller, found the IFPRI study.
The study was disclosed at a workshop at Hotel Intercontinental on Wednesday, jointly organised by ministry of agriculture, IFPRI and USAID.
Another study jointly conducted by ministry of agriculture and IFPRI found that BT brinjal farmers used pesticide for 10-15 times while non-GMO brinjal farmers sprayed pesticide for 16 to 25 times.
The study however found that BT brinjals were not infested by FSB but other pests.
Commenting on the study, Wais Kabir, executive director of Krishi Gobeshona Foundation and former executive chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council, said that BT technology was adopted in Bangladesh but India and the Philippines did not go ahead with the genetically modified technology although they began using the technology before Bangladesh.
He said, "BT brinjals are being marketed in Bangladesh without labelling, depriving people their rights to know and choice if they would consume BT brinjal or not."
He also expressed concern that the BT gene could be pollinated to other crops from BT brinjal if proper segregation was not maintained.
Chairing the technical session, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development executive director and International Growth Centre country director Imran Matin said governance and regulation was imperative in using BT technology.
He said, "Adaptation of biotechnology is to protect the future generation from the challenges of ensuring safe and nutritious foods."
In the inauguration session, agriculture minister Abdur Razzaque claimed that the adaptation of GM technology was a success story of the government though there were opposition against it by different quarters from the beginning.
"Let me clarify, we don’t find any problem with BT Brinjal," he said.
Razzaque said the government supported biotechnology in agriculture to meet the growing demand of foods.
Replying to journalists query during the session break, the minister said Bangladesh expected to export GMO crops like other crops.
He did not reply when asked about the disagreement of importing GMO crops by Europe and other countries.
Asked about the absence of labelling GMO crops while BT brinjal is being marketed, which was made mandatory by National Biosafety Committee, he declined to comment.
Participants in the open discussion said that exported from Bangladesh, BT brinjal was being marketed in West Bengal of India branding it as organic crop while the BT brinjal seeds were being trafficked in West Bengal.
Controversial BT brinjal was introduced in Bangladesh in 2014 despite stark opposition by different quarters.
The genetically modified BT brinjal was developed by US-based seed giant Monsanto, its Indian affiliation Mahyco.
India and the Philippines have already banned genetically modified crops cultivation.