5 Years After Releasing its First GM Crop, Bangladesh Says Farmers Gain by Adopting Bt Brinjal

Five years after introducing country’s first genetically modified crop – Bt brinjal – government undertook an impact assessment study last year. Yesterday it came up with the good news that farmers got benefitted financially by cultivating Bt brinjal and they are now much less prone to health hazards caused by pesticide sprays.

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Genetically Modified Crops Contributing to Country’s Agriculture

Aiming to develop journalists’ capacity, a two-day workshop on application of biotechnology in agriculture, began at a hotel in Dhaka yesterday. The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and Farming Future Bangladesh (FFB), an initiative of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, jointly organised the event with technical support from Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).

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GM Eggplant Can Reduce Pesticide Use in Bangladesh

The first replicated field trials comparing genetically modified eggplant varieties with their non-GM counterparts in Bangladesh have confirmed the Bt gene confers almost total protection against this vital crop’s most damaging pest.

The field trials were carried out in the Bogra district of Bangladesh by a Bangladeshi-U.S. team of researchers. The results are published in the Nov. 21 PLoS One.

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Bt Eggplant Improving Lives in Bangladesh

Ansar Ali earned just 11,000 taka – about $130 U.S. dollars – from eggplant he grew last year in Bangladesh. This year, after planting Bt eggplant, he brought home more than double that amount, 27,000 taka. It’s a life-changing improvement for a subsistence farmer like Ali.

Bt eggplant, or brinjal as it’s known in Bangladesh, is the first genetically engineered food crop to be successfully introduced in South Asia. Bt brinjal is helping some of the world’s poorest farmers to feed their families and communities, improve profits and dramatically reduce pesticide use. That’s according to Tony Shelton, Cornell professor of entomology and director of the Bt brinjal project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Shelton and Jahangir Hossain, the country coordinator for the project in Bangladesh, lead the Cornell initiative to get these seeds into the hands of the small-scale, resource-poor farmers who grow a crop consumed daily by millions of Bangladeshis.

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