Both Bangladesh and the Philippines have readied for release the world’s first Vitamin A enriched rice varieties heralding a new era in fight against Vitamin A deficiency (VAD).
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.
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).
Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzak has said a new variety of rice “Golden Rice” helpful to fight the vitamin A deficiency, will be released soon.
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.
Farmers are continuing to rapidly adopt Bt eggplant (brinjal) in Bangladesh, resulting in reduced pesticide use and higher incomes, according to a new paper authored by scientists involved in developing and releasing the pioneering genetically modified crop.
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.