Bt Eggplant Story – How Important is Eggplant to Filipino Farmers?

SEARCA Biotechnology Information Center (SEARCA BIC) releases The Bt Eggplant Story, a new video series that documents the development of Bt eggplant in the Philippines and highlights the clamor of farmers for the release of the genetically modified (GM) crop.

Potential farmer-adoptors from major eggplant-producing provinces in the Philippines (Laguna, Quezon, Pangasinan, and Davao) express their full support for Bt eggplant and its approval for commercialization “We’re hoping it will be released soon so that we can benefit from it already,” the farmers voice out their shared sentiment.

Eggplant is one of the most commonly consumed products among Filipino households. Apart from its health benefits, there is high demand for the crop since eggplant farming is a major source of income for farmers, some even harvesting as much as 180 kilos of eggplant every planting season. However, they continue to suffer yield and income loss due to the Eggplant Fruit and Shoot Borer (EFSB), which is the most destructive pest of eggplant in the South and Southeast Asian regions.

To address this problem, scientists from the University of the Philippines Los Baños-Institute of Plant Breeding (UPLB-IPB) are currently developing a genetically modified eggplant that contains a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Inserting the Bt gene into the eggplant protects the plant by making it resistant from EFSB while remaining safe for humans and for friendly insects.

The Bt Eggplant Story series was produced in collaboration with Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership, Department of Agriculture-Biotechnology Program Office, and Greenbug Media Productions.