Bangladeshi Bt Brinjal Pilot Scheme Failed.
Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
A pilot scheme for commercial cultivation of Asia’s first genetically modified (GM) Bt brinjal (eggplant), brought disappointing results for 9 of the 20 farmers, as reported recently in the Guardian newspaper . Four varieties: Kajla, Uttara, Nayantara and ISD006, were planted in different climactic regions. Brinjal is one of Bangladesh’s most important crops both for consumption and export, making its cultivation a huge health and economic risk for the population. Indeed, the region is a centre of origin and genetic diversity for brinjal, and should be protected from genetic contamination as advised under the UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety. Its popularity and importance as a food crop makes it a prime target for GM proponents bent in spreading GM technologies to the nation and wider region, including India, where a moratorium is in effect. The Indian moratorium came after fierce opposition from various civil society groups, top scientists, state governments in brinjal growing regions, as well as citizens and environmental groups.