Farmers were beguiled into cultivating this GM crop only to incur losses because of the crop’s poor harvest
EXCERPT: [In 2014] Only one of the 20 Bt brinjal fields succeeded, while 13 were fully and the rest [remaining] six were partially damaged.
Cultivation of Bt bri[n]jal must stop
New Age (Opinion), Sep 19,2017
THE government’s resolve to supply free Bt brinjal seeds to 2,001 farmers in 64 districts is a testimony to the fact that it is hell bent on cultivating Bt brinjal, a transgenic crop, even after the bitter experience gathered by most of the 20 farmers in Gazipur while cultivating Bt brinjal saplings raised by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute.
One may recall that amid huge protests in January 2014 the government first introduced Bt brinjal cultivation in Bangladesh. At that time, agriculture minister herself distributed Bt brinjal saplings among 20 farmers. We cannot forget how they were beguiled into cultivating this genetically modified crop only to incur losses because of the crop’s poor harvest. Only one of the 20 Bt brinjal fields succeeded, while 13 were fully and the rest six were partially damaged.
Notably, all this is taking place at a time when experts and green activists are vociferous against the cultivation of any GM crops. They are opposing the move on the ground that these controversial crops may leave adverse impact on [the] human body on the one hand and endanger environment by polluting the crop varieties to be cultivated on its surrounding areas on the other. Each farmer, as New Age reported on Monday, would be given 20 gram of Bt brinjal seeds with 15kg of DAP [di-ammonium phosphate] and 15kg of MOP [muriate of potash] fertilizers for growing the crop on each bigha of land at the cost of Tk 58.77 crore for boosting this incentive programme.
The government at the outset always claims that these varieties would be pest-proof and bring more profit than the local variety. The case of Bt brinjal is a testimony to the fact that authorities did not tell the truth. Earlier, Bt brinjal plants at some fields were either dead or struggling to grow. Besides, those growing well were coming under the attack of shoot borer pests.
It is important to note that most of our farmers are poor, and have no other options but to depend on the cultivation of one of the most consumed vegetables in the country for sustenance. One also needs to remember that dozens of Indian farmers committed suicide a few years ago; they too had believed in the assurance of the US-based seed giant Monsanto that its Bt cotton seed guarantees good production and thus profit, and ended up with heavy debt burden for crop failure.
It is unacceptable that when GM crops and foods are barred from entering the US and EU markets and the cultivation of these crops are banned in India and the Philippines, the Awami League-led government is serving the purpose of Monsanto and Mahyco at the cost of our farmers’ interest. Conscious sections of society need to mount pressure on the government to stop its harmful move to cultivate these crops.