Bangladeshi journalist Faisal Rahman replies to allegations in a Cornell University Alliance for Science article that he misreported the experience of a farmer growing Bt brinjal and breached journalistic ethics

Some allegations were brought against me in an article, titled “Bangladeshi Bt brinjal farmer speaks out in GMO controversy”, published by Cornell Alliance for Science in its website on July 12, 2016. The allegations were related to part of a GMWatch article titled, “Propaganda over facts? BBC Panorama and Bt brinjal”, published on July 28, 2015. The part in contention was based on my conversation with Hafizur Rahman, a farmer of Tangail district, that took place on June 20, 2015 in and around his Bt brinjal farm.

Before commenting on the allegations, I must point to the fact that the issue I pointed to about Hafizur as reflected in the GMWatch article was not related to whether Hafizur was “dissatisfied” (in the Alliance’s wording) with his GMO crop. I visited his Bt brinjal plot because of his interview with BBC Panorama (details are in the GMWatch article, for which I collaborated with its author Claire Robinson on voluntary basis). As a journalist who has been following this issue over the last three years, the BBC Panorama interview made me curious. I also co-directed a film with three others on the issue, Btbegun Bishambad or Bt Brinjal In The Dock.

As was mentioned in the film, the film makers visited 16 of the 108 farmers who were provided with Bt brinjal seedlings in the second round of farmers’ cultivation of the crop under the supervision of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI). Also mentioned in the film was our finding that except for one, all the farmers we visited had crop failure. The one exception was actually Hafizur, although we found out, and we have the evidence, that most of his plants started dying out prematurely.

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[Ed's note: Apologies, this article was previously sent out under the wrong email subject line.]