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Bt brinjal likely to get the go-ahead

  • Published at 07:45 pm October 27th, 2013
Bt brinjal likely to get the go-ahead

The Bio-safety Core Committee may give approval for introduction of genetically modified brinjal, known as Bt brinjal, in the country on Monday.

The committee could not reach any decision about the bt variety in its meeting on Sunday, Director General Rafiqul Islam Mondol of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) said after the meeting.

“Hopefully, the approval will come on Monday,” he said.

The committee led by the secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forest also comprises relevant officials ministries including agriculture and health.

The government is releasing four varieties of genetically modified brinjal in the country amid severe concern of environmental activists about biological and health hazards at home and abroad.

So far, BARI has developed bt Uttara, bt Kajla, bt Noyontara and bt Isd 006 from local varieties by inserting bt gene into them.

However, seeking anonymity, an official on the committee said they got a little time to review the application and look into environmental aspects of the four Bt varieties.

“We received the application to see to environmental and bio-safety aspects on October 21, but it was very tough to review the details within this short time,” the official told the Dhaka Tribune.

Earlier in July, BARI sent its application to the National Technical Committee for Crop Biotechnology to assess the effectiveness of the Bt brinjal varieties.

Following the assessment, the committee sent the applicaiton to the Bio-safety Core Committee on October 21 to get its nod which would be ultimately termed “Final Approval."

BARI developed the Bt brinjal varieties after a seven-year experiment since 2006 with the technical support of Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) in which the American seed giant Monsanto had 26% stake.

BARI cliams that the use of pesticide on Bt variety be reduced remarkably as it is injected with anti-insect organism to control the its major insecticide – Fruit and Shoot Borer – that is liable for 50% to 70% damage to the vegetable.

Environmental activists expressed their concern that Bt would affect biodiversity and also lead to severe health hazards to humans, animals and plants.

Ubinig Executive Director Farida Akhter, who also leads Naya Krishi Andolon, and Executive Director of Shishuk, an NGO, Sakiul Millat Morshed filed two writ petitions with the High Court seeking ban on the release of Bt brinjal in the country. The High Court rejected the petitions on September 22.

On September 29, another HC bench barred the introduction of the four varieties of Bt brinjal following another petition filed by Morshed.

The HC also asked BARI and both agriculture and health secretaries to submit a progress report within three months after conducting an independent research on the health safety issues in line with the GM food standard set by Codex Alimentarius Commission, an organisation founded by the FAO and the WHO.