Genetically modified (GM) Bt brinjal was introduced to Bangladesh and rapidly approved for commercial growing despite widespread protest.
Brinjal (eggplant or aubergine) is one of Bangladesh’s most important crops both for home consumption and export, making the cultivation of Bt brinjal a huge environmental, health and economic risk. More seriously, the region is a centre of origin and genetic diversity for brinjal, and should be protected from genetic contamination according to the UN Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.
India had imposed a moratorium on its cultivation after fierce opposition from civil society groups, top scientists, state governments, as well as citizens and environmental organizations. The cultivation in Bangladesh has drawn similar controversy, with 100 civil society organisations writing to the country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in protest.
A pilot scheme for commercial cultivation was introduced in 2014, and brought disastrous results, with at least 9 out of 20 farmers reporting crop failures.
Bt brinjal strains were distributed to Bangladeshi farmers and grown again in 2015; and the crops failed yet again, even more dismally, according to the United News of Bangladesh. The plants have either “died out prematurely or fruited very insignificantly compared to local varieties”