‘No BT brinjal export for now’

Bangladesh has no plans to export BT brinjal, that it is cultivating in a limited way, says a senior official of Export Promotion Bureau (EPB). The EPB’s vice-chairman Subhasis Basu told journalists that there was no reason to ‘lend ear to such false propaganda’.
Last week, a UK based organisation wrote to the EPB expressing apprehensions that BT Brinjal produced in Bangladesh may find its way into Europe’s markets.‘GM Freeze’, the UK group, opposes cultivation and trade of genetically modified crops.
Its director Helena Paul warned in an e-mail to the EPB that if BT Brinjal produced in Bangladesh found its way to Europe, the continent’s market may be closed for vegetable exports from Bangladesh in future.
Bangladesh produces 30 varieties of Brinjal and one such variety has been genetically modified by injecting a specific type of bacteria, Baccilus Thuringiensis.
“But we are only cultivating this genetically modified Brinjal in a limited way and there are no plans to export any of that anywhere in the world, let alone Europe,” Basu told journalists.
Basu said Bangladesh strictly observed the regulations prevalent in countries where its products are exported to. “There is no question of violating these regulations.”
Bangladesh exported vegetables worth $ 110 million in 2013, up from $ 80 million the year before. Basu says vegetable exports from Bangladesh may go up to anywhere between $125 to 130 million.
“Stiff competition from our vegetables may have led some quarters to spread rumours about Bangladesh exporting BT Brinjal. This is unfortunate, but it is not true” the EPB vice-chairman said.
Despite stiff opposition from environmentalists, Bangladesh’s current government permitted limited cultivation of genetically modified BT Brinjal in October last year.
A writ petition filed in the court opposed the cultivation of BT Brinjal in Bangladesh, saying it could have serious health hazards for its people and damage the country’s environment.  But it failed to stop the government which gave its go-ahead to cultivation of BT Brinjal.
India and Philippines has long researched genetically modified varieties of brinjals but not permitted its cultivation, precisely keeping in mind the adverse effects on health and environment.
In fact, Indian scientists were upset that BT Brinjal produced in Bangladesh may now find its way into India through the porous borders between the two countries.
Is BT Brinjal indeed detrimental to health?
Bangladesh’s Agriculture Research Council’s chief scientist Aziz Gilani Choudhury has said that this whole issue remains hotly debated with arguments both for and against cultivation and consumption of genetically modified crop.
“But since we are not exactly clear about its impact on environment and public health, only limited cultivation of the crop has been allowed,” Choudhury said. He said it would take another two years to commercially produce BT Brinjal in Bangladesh. – bdnews24.com