The first GM crop in Bangladesh – Bt Eggplant


  •   AKM Quamruzzaman


Eggplant (Solanum melongena) commonly called Brinjal is the most popular vegetable in Bangladesh. It is extensively cultivated around homesteads and in commercial fields throughout the year. It is estimated that nearly 67 percent of the eggplant crop yield in Bangladesh is lost due to the damage caused by Leucinodes orbonalis also known as eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB). EFSB is reportedly the most serious pest of eggplant. To overcome this EFSB problem Bt eggplant project has been initiated in 2004. The Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII) is a USAID-supported project that has funded the development of Bt eggplant in Bangladesh under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode. Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) received the Event EE-1 eggplant in Mahyco and backcrossed into nine popular eggplant varieties of Bangladesh selected based on the regional consumer preference. The efficacy of cry1Ac gene in providing effective resistance to the target pest was also assessed in terms of productively (fruit yield increase) which was studied in 9 Bt eggplant lines for a period of 7 years from 2008 to 2015. To launch the best 4 varieties, BARI applied to the National Technical Committee on Crop Biotechnology (NTCCB). For release of GM crop variety, first of all follow the recommendation of NTCCB, then submitted to the National Technical Committee on Crop Biotechnology (NTCCB) Core Committee and then to the National Committee on Biosafety (NCB). The Bangladesh government approved four varieties namely, BARI Bt Begun-1 (Uttara), BARI Bt Begun-2 (Kazla), BARI Bt Begun-3 (Nayantara) and BARI Bt Begun-4 (BARI Begun-6 or ISD006) on 30 October 2013 and these got momentum countrywide. On 22 January 2014, Bt seedlings were distributed among 20 farmers in four districts of Bangladesh as the first genetically modified (GM) crops. After the government of Bangladesh approved the cultivation of Bt eggplant in 2013, its popularity is increasing day by day and the socio-economic condition of the farmers is also improving. Bt eggplant started its journey in 2014 with only 20 farmers, in seven years it has grown to about 27012 farmers and from 8 acres to about 5,000 acres. This advancement of Bt eggplant has also faced opposition from different quarters at different times. Today, the progress of Bt eggplant continues by overcoming all obstacles. Field days, trainings, various publications, documentary making, use of mass and social media, observations, workshops, stewardship activities are acting as important regulators of this progress.

Keywords: Eggplant, Bt Brinjal, genetically modified (GM) crops, eggplant fruit and shoot borer, EFSB, Leucinodes orbonalis, stewardship


Agrawal, R.L. 1980. Seed Technology, Oxford and IBH Publishing Co., New Delhi, pp. 198-201.

Analytical Report on Nutritional Value of Supplied Egg Plants. 2013. Institute of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Dhaka.

Anonymous. 2020. Year Book of Agricultural Statistics of Bangladesh 2018. Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, Ministry of Planning, Government of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh. pp 249-290.

APAARI. 2018. Success Story on Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh. Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions, Bangkok, Thailand. xviii+39 p.

Astwood, J.D., Leach, J.N. and Fuchs, R.L. 1996. Stability of food allergens to digestion invitro. Nature Biotechnology. 14:1269-1273.

Atwal, A.S. 1976. Agricultural pests of Indian and Southeast Asia. New Delhi: Kalyani Publishers. 529 pp.

Bietlot, H., Carey, P.R., Kaplan, H., Lessard, T., and Pozsgay, Z. 1989. Facile preparation and characterization of the toxin from Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki Biochem. 260: 87-91

Biopesticide, 2010. Biopesticide Registration Action Document. Bacillus thuringiensis Cry1Ac Protein and the Genetic Material (Vector PV-GMIR9) Necessary for Its Production in MON 87701 (OECD Unique Identifier: MON 877Ø1-2) Soybean [PC Code 006532].

Bt brinjal in Bangladesh: Voices from the Field.

Butani, D K and Jotwani,M G 1984 Insects inVegetables Periodical Expert Book Agency. D-42, Vivek Vihar, Delhi-110032, India, 356 p.

Caguiat XGI, Hautea DM. 2014. Genetic diversity analysis of eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) and related wild species in the Philippines using morphological and SSR markers, Sabrao J Breed Genet. 46(2): 183-201.

CERA, 2010. A review of the environmental safety of the Cry1Ac protein.

Chen, N. C. and Li, H. M. 2000. Vegetable production training manual., Asian Vegetable Research and Development Center, Tainan.

Choudhary, B. 1971. Research on eggplants in India. Food Foundation/IITA/IRAT Seminar on vegetable crops research, Ibadan, Nigeria.

Choudhary, B. and Anothai - Choomsai, M. L. 1970. Indian Journal of Agricultural Science. 40:805-812.

Codex Alimentarius 2003. Guideline for the conduct of food safety assessment of foods derived from recombinant DNA plants. vol CAC/GL 45-2003. Codex Alimentarius Commission, Rome

De Candolle, A. 1886. Origin of Cultivated Plants. 2nd ed., reprinted 1959. New York.

EPA. 1988. https:// recordisplay.cfm? deid= 29777.

Gupta K, JL Karihaloo and RK Khetarpal (2014) Biosafety Regulations for GM Crops in Asia- Pacific. Asia-Pacific Consortium on Agricultural Biotechnology, New Delhi and Asia- Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions, Bangkok, xii+160 p.

Hoffmann, C., Vanderbruggen, H. V., Hofte, H., Van Rie, J., Jansens, S., and Van Mellaert, H. 1988. Specificity of B. thuringiensis delta-endotoxins is correlated with the presence of high affinity binding sites in the brush border membrane of target insect midguts Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 85:7844-7848.,_spines,_and_prickles#Spines.

ISAAA, 2018. executivesummary/default.asp.

Isshiki, S. and N. Kawajiri. 2002. Effect of cytoplasm of Solanum violaceum Ort. on fertility of eggplant (S. melongena L.). Sci. Hort. 93:9–18.

Jung-Il Cho, Sung-Han Park, Gang-Seob Lee, Su-Min Kim, Su-Mi Lim, Youn-Shic Kim, Soo-Chul Park. 2020. Current Status of GM Crop Development and Commercialization. Korean J. Breed. Sci. 52(S):40-48.

Kantharajah AS, Golegaonkar PG (2004). Somatic embryogenesis in eggplant. Sci Hortic-Amsterdam 99(2):107-117. Kashyap V, Kumar SV, Collonnier C, Fusari F, Haicour R, Rotino.

Keck, P.J. and Mitsky, T.A. 1994. Comparative alignment of insecticidally active Bt.k. HD-73 protein (Batik. protein) to known allergenic and toxic proteins using the FASTA algorithm. An unpublished study conducted by Monsanto Company. Monsanto Technical Report. MSL-13643, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Keese P, 2008. Risks from GMOs due to horizontal gene transfer. Environmental Biosafety Research 7:123-149.

Knapp, S., M.S. Vorontsova, and J. Prohens. 2013. Wild relatives of the eggplant (Solanum melongena L.: Solanaceae): New understanding of species names in a complex group. PLoS One 8:e57039.

Knowles, B.H. and dow, J.A.T. 1993. The crystal delta-endotoxins of Bacillus thuringiensis- models for their mechanism of action on the insect gut. BioEssays 15, 469-476.

Korkmaz AI, Akgul H, Sevindik M, Selamoglu Z. 2018. Study on determination of bioactive potentials of certain lichens. Acta Alimentaria, 47(1): 80-87.

Lester, R.N. and J.H. Kang. 1998. Embryo and endosperm failure in Solanum species and hybrids. Ann. Bot. (Lond.) 82:445–453.

Mahyco, 2008. Development of Fruit and Shoot Borer Tolerant Brinjal, Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Ltd., Mumbai.

Martin FW and Rhodes AM. 1979. Subspecifc grouping of eggplant hybrid cultivars. Euphytica 28: 367-383.

Meherunnahar, M., and Paul, D. N. R. 2009. Bt brinjal: introducing genetically modified brinjal (eggplant/aubergine) in Bangladesh. Bangladesh Development Research Working Paper Series BDRWPS No. 9, Bangladesh Development Research Center (BDRC). Available online at: URL: doi: 10.2139/ssrn.1482803.

Metcalfe, D.D., Astwood, J.D., Townsend, R., Sampson, H.A., Taylor, S.L. and Fuchs, R.L. 1996. Assessment of the allergenic potentials of foods derived from genetically engineered crop plants. Critical Reviews in Food science and Nutrition. 36(S): S165-S186.

Mohamed AE, Rashed MN, Mofty A. 2003. Assessment of essential and toxic elements in some kinds of vegetables. Ecotox Environ Safe 55(3):251-60.

Mondal, R.I., A. K. M Quamruzzaman, K. Hasan, and D. Khanam. 2016. The journey of Bt eggplant in Bangladesh. Proceedings of the 4th Annual South Asia Biosafety Conference, Sept. 19-21, 2016. Hyderabad, India.

National Biosafety Framework 2006. file:///Users/q.zaman/ Downloads/National%20Biosafety%20Framework.pdf.

Nielsen KM, AM. Bones, K. Smalla, JDV Elsas. 1998. Horizontal gene transfer from transgenic plants to terrestrial bacteria-a rare event? FEMS Microbiology Reviews 22:79-103.

Perlak, F.J., Deaton, R.W., Armstrong, T.A., Fuchs, R.L., Sims, S.R., Greenplats, L.T., and Fishholl, D.A. 1990. Insect resistant cotton plants. Biotechnology 8:939-943.

Prain, D., 1903. Bengal Plants. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun., pp. 742-753.

Prodhan MZH, Hasan MT, Chowdhury MMI, Alam MS, Rahman ML, Azad AK, et al. 2018. Bt eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) in Bangladesh: Fruit production and control of eggplant fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis Guenee), effects on non-target arthropods and economic returns. PLoS ONE 13(11): e0205713. pone.0205713.

Rahman, S. 2013. Pesticide consumption and productivity and the potential of IPM in Bangladesh. Sci. Total Environ. 445–446, 48–56. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.12.032.

Rao NN. 1979. The barriers to hybridization between Solanum melongena and some other species of Solanum. In: Hawkes JG, Lester RN, Skelding AD (eds) The biology and taxonomy of the Solanaceae. Academic Press, London, pp 605–614.

Ream, J.E. 1994. Assessment of the in vitro digestive fate of Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki HD-73 protein. A study conducted by Monsanto Company, Monsanto Study MSL-13299, St. Louis, MO.

Sambandam, C.N. 1964. An outlook in eggplant breeding. Eco. Bot. 18:128-131.

Sanchez-Castillo CP, Englyst HN, Hudson GJ, Lara JJ, Solano ML, Munguia JL, James WP (1999). The non-starch polysaccharide content of Mexican foods. J Food Compos Anal 12(4):293-314.

Shelton AM, Hossain MJ, Paranjape V, Azad AK, Rahman ML, Khan ASMMR, Prodhan MZH, Rashid MA, Majumder R, Hossain MA, Hussain SS, Huesing JE and McCandless L 2018. Bt Eggplant Project in Bangladesh: History, Present Status, and Future Direction. Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 6:106. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2018.00106.

Shelton, A. M., K. E. Hokanson, D. M. Hautea, M. J. Hossain, M.A. Hossain, V. Paranjape, R.A. Hautea, L. McCandless, and S. H. Sarwer. 2017. Bt Eggplant: A Genetically Engineered ‘Minor’ Crop Comes of Age in Bangladesh and the Philippines. ISB News Report.

Sihachkr D, Chaput M.H, Serraf L, Ducreux G. 1993. Regeneration of plants from protoplasts of eggplant (Solanum melongena L.). In: Bajaj, Y.P.S. (Ed.), Biotech in Agri and Forestry, Plant Protoplasts and Genetic Engineering. Springer, Berlin., 108-122.

Van Rie, J., Jansens, S., Höfte, H., Degheele, D., and Mellaert, H.V. 1990. Receptors on the brush border membrane of the insect midgut as determinants of the specificity of Bacillus thuringiensis delta-endotoxins. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 56:1378-1385.

Van Rie, J., Jansens, S., Hofte, H., Degheele, D., and Van Mellaert, H. 1989. Specificity of Bacillus thuringiensis endotoxins: importance of specific receptors on the brush border membrane of the mid-gut of target. insects. Eur. J. Biochem. 186:239-247.


How to Cite
Quamruzzaman, A. (2021). The first GM crop in Bangladesh – Bt Eggplant. European Journal of Agriculture and Food Sciences, 3(2), 45–55.

Most read articles by the same author(s)