The Bio-safety Core Committee stopped short of announcing a decision on the introduction of Bt brinjal, a genetically modified variety of eggplant, after its meeting yesterday.
“The formal decision is likely to be disclosed after a consultation between the ministers of environment and agriculture which will take place within the next few days,” said Rafiqul Islam Mondol, director general of Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI), while talking to the Dhaka Tribune.
The committee, led by the secretary of the ministry of environment and forest, also comprises relevant officials from the ministries of agriculture and health.
The government is set to release four varieties of genetically modified brinjal in the country amid severe concern from environmental activists home and abroad about biological- and health-related implications.
So far, BARI has developed Bt Uttara, Bt Kajla, Bt Noyontara and Bt Isd 006 from local varieties by inserting Bt gene, an anti-insect organism to counter its major insecticides – fruit and shoot borer – that is liable for 50% to 70% damage to the vegetable. BARI claims it would reduce the use of pesticide remarkably.
Earlier in July, BARI sent its application to the National Technical Committee for Crop Biotechnology to assess the effectiveness of the Bt brinjal varieties.
Following the assessment, the committee sent the application to the Bio-safety Core Committee on October 21 for “Final Approval.”
BARI developed the Bt brinjal varieties after a seven-year experiment which began in 2006 with the technical support of the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco), in which the American seed giant Monsanto holds 26% stake.