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Bt Brinjal may cut UK, EU vegetable markets

  • Published at 07:00 pm December 21st, 2013
Bt Brinjal may cut UK, EU vegetable markets

GM Freeze, a London-based campaign group, has urged Bangladesh government to suspend the decision to release four genetically modified brinjal varieties among farmers fearing it might be a threat to the country’s export market in the UK and other European countries.

It also said the production of Bt Brinjal would affect the farmers because of fall in production as the demand would go down. GM Freeze which campaigns on GM food, crops and patents recently wrote to the president, the prime minister, and the ministers for commerce and environment for retracting the decision.

In October, the National Committee on Bio-safety (NCB) of Bangladesh approved limited-scale cultivation of Bt Brinjal and confined trial of “Golden Rice” and GM potatoes.

In a press release, the GMF said: “We reminded the government of the decision to approve the GM crops cultivation in Bangladesh as it will not only jeopardise the farmers in the UK market but also in the rest of the EU markets.”

It also said the UK imports some 40% of Bangladesh’s fresh produce exports, worth around $31.18m annually.

GM brinjal is not authorised as a food or feed in the EU. The resulting need for all Bangladeshi brinjal farmers to enact strict coexistence practices to prevent crop contamination or comingling with non-GM cargoes for export place the expense of GM production unfairly on those growing non-GM crops, directly impairing the viability of otherwise successful non-GM businesses, the statement said.

“There is no good reason to jeopardise Bangladeshi farm and export business by growing GM brinjal,” said Helena Paul, director of the GMF, in the statement released on December 4.

However, the Bangladeshi vegetables exporters are yet to express concerns about the probable ban on exports.

“The government has just released the Bt Brinjal for demonstration at the farmers’ level. We did not receive any threat from the importers until now,” said SM Jahangir Hossain, president of Bangladesh Vegetables and Fruits Exporters’ Association.

Around 40-50 items including vegetables and fruits are exported to the EU and Middle-East. The annual turnover is around Tk800-Tk900 core.

If the importer countries show unwillingness about Bt Brinjal, “we can easily cut it down from the list,” Jahangir said.

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