Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh: Too early to draw conclusions on contamination, says expert

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Kolkata, Sep 7 (IANS) There are no reports of adverse impact on health yet following the limited field release of Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh, but it is too early to draw conclusions on contamination effects on wild and cultivated varieties of brinjal, a senior Bangladeshi official said.

Both India and Bangladesh are considered centres of origin and diversity for brinjal (with over 2,000 varieties). In 2013, Bangladesh endorsed a limited field release of the transgenic brinjal. Concerns have been raised on the threats of transgenic contamination on wild varieties of brinjal in the region.

“First we had indigenous variety, then there was the high yielding and then hybrid and now we have GMO. There was no problem with the earlier varieties. It is initial stage with the genetically engineered variety, and so it is too early to tell conclusively on the effects on diversity,” Mohmmed Solaiman Haider, Director (Planning), Department of Environment, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Bangladesh told the media here.

He was a discussant on global status of biotechnology and regulatory affairs in the United States, Bangladesh and Vietnam at the American Centre here.

“… since 2013, about 200 to 300 farmers’ fields have the brinjal. The experience has been very good in terms of production. We have no report of impact on soil and no report on impact on health. People are eating and they are in sound health,” asserted Haider.

Conceding the domestic demand for brinjal is high in the country, Haider maintained people do not usually bother about consuming Bt versus non-Bt variety.

“There is also no report of export because in our domestic market brinjal is costlier and huge demand is there. There are no adverse impacts reported to us but some anticipated impacts we hear (like pest resistance). People do not care if it is Bt or not Bt. Instructions have been given to label Bt Brinjals. But it is a tough job because we have open market systems rather than supermarkets,” he added.

In India, Bt Brinjal field trials have been under an open-ended moratorium since 2010. In 2014, the West Bengal government (bordering Bangladesh), claimed it has received information regarding “infiltration” of commercial seeds of Bt-Brinjal from Bangladesh.



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