The first GM crop in Bangladesh – Bt Eggplant

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  •   AKM Quamruzzaman

Abstract

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

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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. https://doi.org/10.24018/ejfood.2021.3.2.237

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