Director of General of BARI remarks about Bt Brinjal

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Brinjal is a very popular vegetable which is grown year round all over Bangladesh. The brinjal shoot and fruit borer is the key pest of brinjal in this country. For brinjal production, farmers spray insecticides at 2-3 days intervals (in one season 80-160 times) which are most harmful for public health and environment. The excessive use of insecticides creates adverse effect on human health and environment. The production cost of brinjal is increased due to frequent spraying of insecticides and even by frequent spraying of insecticides farmers do not get desired yield.

Now the farmers cannot successfully control this insect by using environment friendly IPM methods like sex pheromone trap and by removal of the infested shoots and other methods.

It was not possible to develop variety resistant to brinjal shoot and fruit borer by conventional breeding. The Bt gene (Cry1Ac) received from developed countries is introgressed in 9 popular brinjal varieties in Bangladesh. The main advantages of Bt brinjal are-

  • To save brinjal from the brinjal shoot and fruit borer
  • Farmers can produce and preserve the Bt brinjal seed as Bt brinjal varieties are not hybrids
  • Farmers do not need to depend on seed company for seed every year
  • Farmers do not need to give any royalty to foreign company
  • Due to the limited use of pesticides, there will not be environmental pollution and the health of farmers will remain good
  • The production cost would be less and farmers will secure desired increased yield and consequently there will be increased income

Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute created a multidisciplinary team in 2005 with biotechnologist, plant breeder, soil scientist, plant pathologist and entomologist under ABSPII Project which is led by Cornell University of USA and funded by USAID. Multilocation field trials were conducted in seven research stations of BARI (Joydebpur, Jamalpur, Jessore, Hathazari, Barisal, Ishwardi and Rangpur) from 2008-2013 according to the permission of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Agriculture and approval of Bio-safety Committee and following the bio-safety rules. Field days were organized at research stations with local farmers, extension agents, NGO representative, journalists, public representative and researcher to show the obtained results. The results of research are published in BARI annual report. The reports of the field days were published in print and electronic media. Besides these, four consultation workshops were arranged with all Vice-Chancellors of public Universities in our country; Deputy Directors of Agricultural Extension Department (DAE), Regional Directors of DAE; the Departmental heads and Deans of all Public Universities on the results of Bt brinjal and to create more awareness on Bt brinjal. The members of bio-safety committee, local and foreign researchers, policymakers, teachers, journalists and public representatives also visited the Bt brinjal research and development activities.

BARI applied to National Technical Committee on Crop Biotechnology (NTCCB) to release Bt brinjal based on the research results for more than 8 years following the existing rules of the country. Then the application was sent to the National Committee on Bio-safety (NCB) with the recommendation of NTCCB. Upon proper assessments by NCB based on the recommendation of Bio-safety Core Committee, Government approved the deregulation of four Bt brinjal varieties [BARI Bt begun-1 (Uttara), BARI Bt begun-2 (Kazla), BARI Bt begun-3 (Nayantara), and BARI Bt begun-4 (ISD 006)] on 30 October, 2013 following the exiting rules of the country.

On 22-01-2014, Bt brinjal seedlings were distributed among 20 farmers of Gazipur, Pabna, Rangpur and Jamalpur districts. The farmers successfully cultivated the distributed seedlings and sold the produce in the market. As a result, the farmers are economically benefited. But, couple of farmers did not follow the cultivation instructions properly and thus they did not get desired results.

In the current year (2014-2015), Bt brinjal demonstrations plots were established in 108 farmers’ field across 19 districts in the country. Shoot and fruit borer infestation was not observed anywhere. Due to no infestation of the insect, production is more (on an average 25-39 ton per hectare) and farmers are benefited by selling the produce in the market. From the results, it is observed that the performance of Bt brinjal was better than non Bt brinjal in all districts. While the infestations by the insect in shoots and fruits in Bt brinjal were only 0.00-0.05 per cent and 0.04-0.88 per cent respectively, the infestations in non-Bt brinjals were 30.00-40.00 percent and 48.00-57.00 per cent, respectively. BARI Bt Begun-1, BARI Bt Begun-2, BARI Bt Begun-3 and BARI Bt Begun-4 have brought with an average 66 per cent, 68 per cent, 40 per cent and 100 per cent higher yields respectively compared with non Bt brinjal. Field days on Bt brinjal were arranged in every district and farmers, scientists, extension officials and local journalists were present in each field day and reports were published in different newspapers. Besides this, in this year the breeder seed is being produced from the released four varieties at research stations. Such seeds will be sold to the farmers following the government rate.

In this year, application will be submitted to release three varieties (Singhnath, Dohazari and Khatkhatia) from the rest five Bt brinjal varieties (Singhnath, Chega, Islampuri, Dohazari and Khatkhatia). The food value and chemical compositions of Bt brinjal with Cry1Ac gene were tested in local and foreign laboratories. No element toxic to human health was found. No toxic effects were found in fish, hen, goat, rat, buffalo and other animals while tested is more than ten accredited laboratories of the developed countries. All such reports are stored with BARI authorities. On the other hand, ‘GMO crops are toxic to human health’ such information have not been published in any recognized journal as far as our knowledge goes.

On the other hand, the nutritional composition of Bt brinjal is similar to traditional brinjal. Besides, there are less possibilities of cross pollination of Bt brinjal with local brinjal as brinjal is self-pollinated crop. The stability of Bt brinjal gene is examined; in this case there is less possibility for Bt brinjal to become non-stable due to gene contamination.

GM (Genetically Modified) method is fully observed over all types of breeding methods and it is still being continued. But, so far no unaccepted or undesirable effect was found that might harm on human health, animal, or for environment. Recently, Bangladeshi Bt brinjal samples have been tested in the internationally recognized COVANCE laboratory in London. There was no difference between Bt brinjal and its non-Bt counterpart. No detrimental effect of Bt brinjal was found on tested animals. Now, biotechnology is applied worldwide to overcome the limitations of conventional breeding to develop desired varieties. By using biotechnology, desired varieties could be developed with less time and money. Now a days 170.3 million hectares are used for GM crops cultivation in 28 countries of the world and its cultivation is increasing day by day. The crop varieties which are developed by applying genetic engineering in different countries are soybean, corn, cotton, papaya, potato, sugar beet etc. are mentionable. In America (2012) about 69.5 million hectares of lands were used for cultivating GM corn, cotton, soybean, potato, squash and sugar beet. In Argentina and Brazil, GM corn, cotton and soybean are cultivated. In the same way, in Canada, canola, soybean, corn and sugar beet are cultivated; and in China cotton, papaya, tomato are also cultivated with other GM crops. In 1996 the land under GM crops was only 1.7 million hectares which increased up to 170.3 million hectare in 2012. Very recently, in Britain, the late blight resistant potato variety is developed (Dainik Kaler Kontha: 18 February, 2014).

It is normal that the new technologies are being developed in ages for human beings and these are also used for benefit of people. By obeying the intellectual property rights, trade related rights, patent rights and other forthcoming rules and regulations, the benefits GM crops are to be used by human beings. We should not be remaining silent as researchers. We should have mentality to develop new technology and also to accept it. This technology is considered as the best option for a country like Bangladesh with the challenge of food shortage and decreasing cultivable land.

John Bakum
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$4.8 million USAID grant to strengthen biotechnology partnership and improve food security in South Asia

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

To strengthen capacity to develop and disseminate genetically engineered eggplant in Bangladesh and the Philippines, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded Cornell a $4.8 million, three-year grant. The award supports USAID’s work under Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global initiative to fight hunger and improve food security using agricultural science and technology.

In the Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership, Cornell will protect eggplant farmers from yield losses and improve their livelihoods in partnership with the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños. Eggplant, or brinjal, is a staple crop that is an important source of income and nutrition for farmers and consumers in South Asia.

Bangladesh eggplant farmer Md. Milon Mia (l) and his father (r),
from the Bogra district,
show Tony Shelton (center) the difference
between Bt brinjal and fruit and shoot borer infested non-Bt brinjal.
CREDIT: Arif Hossain/Cornell

“Because of infestation by the fruit and shoot borer, or FSB, as much as 70 percent of the eggplant crop in South Asia never makes it to market,” said Anthony Shelton, international professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell, who will direct the project. “Farmers in Asia spray hazardous insecticides as often as every other day to control FSB.”

Genetically engineered eggplant, or Bt brinjal, has been developed over the last 11 years and uses a gene from a naturally occurring soil bacterium to produce a protein that causes borers to stop feeding.

“Bt, or bacillus thuringiensis, is a biological pesticide that organic growers have used for decades,” said Shelton. “Bt brinjal increases food security and reduces the use of insecticides that negatively affects human health and the environment.”

“Bangladesh faces food shortages, increasing population, and decreasing amounts of arable land,” said Dr. Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondal, director general of BARI. “Genetically engineered crops developed under the Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership will enhance the quality of life for Bangladeshis by increasing income, improving nutrition and health, and fostering a safer environment.”

Over the past decade, Cornell has led the Agricultural Biotechnology Support Project II (ABSPII), also funded by USAID, that prompted a consortium of institutions in Asia and Africa to use the tools of modern biotechnology, particularly genetic engineering, to improve crops to address major production constraints for which conventional plant breeding tools have not been effective.

According to Shelton, ABSPII’s most significant achievement was working with BARI and the Bangladesh government to achieve product authorization of eggplant varieties in that country.

“The Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership award will help realize the full impact of USAID’s preceding years’ investment in research and technology development, to facilitate the late-stage development, deregulation, commercialization and dissemination of Bt eggplant to farmers,” said Joe Huesing, USAID senior biotechnology adviser. “The goal is to increase food security and improve environmental quality through supporting the national partners in their efforts to commercialize and adopt genetically engineered eggplant.”

Mansur Sarkur shows the damage caused by the
fruit and shoot borer (FSB) from a non-genetically modified eggplant.
CREDIT: McCandless/Cornell  

In October 2013, Bangladesh became the first country in South Asia to approve commercial cultivation of a genetically engineered food crop. In February 2014, Matia Chowdhury, the Bangladesh minister of agriculture, released four varieties of Bt brinjal to 20 farmers. With the establishment of the 20 Bt brinjal demonstration plots in 2014 and 104 more in 2015, BARI reported a noticeable decrease in fruit and shoot borer infestation, increased yields, decreased use of pesticide and improved income for farmers.

“The performance of Bt brinjal was better than non-Bt brinjal in all districts,” said Mondal.

Five additional Bt eggplant varieties are in the pipeline for release in Bangladesh.

The Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership addresses and integrates all elements of the commercialization process — including technology development, regulation, marketing, seed distribution, and product stewardship. It also provides strong platforms for policy development, capacity building, gender equality, outreach and communication.

CORNELL (Ithaca, NY): Linda McCandless,, +1-607-227-5920
BANGLADESH: Arif Hossain,, +880-170-578-6206

Linda McCandless
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Filipino farmer leaders learn from Bt brinjal farmers in Bangladesh

Friday, March 4, 2016

Filipino farmer leaders from Pangasinan, Isabela, Butuan, Bukidnon, and Maguindanao recently participated in a two-day study visit to Bt brinjal (eggplant) farms in Bangladesh last February 23 to 26, 2016. Discussions on biotechnology regulations in Bangladesh, research and development of Bt brinjal, and farmer experiences on planting Bt brinjal were conducted with officials from the Bangladesh government and scientists from the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), namely: AKM Quamruzzaman, Senior Scientific Officer, BARI; Muhammad Solaiman Haider, Director for Planning, Department of Environment, Bangladesh Ministry of Environment; and ASM Mahbubur Rahman Khan, Chief Scientific Officer and Head, On-Farm Research Division, BARI. The field visit to Bt brinjal planting sites and interaction with Bt brinjal farmers were held in two villages in Bogra, Bangladesh.

During the discussion with Bangladesh officials and scientists, questions asked by the Filipino farmers were on the keys to success in the commercial approval and cultivation of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh, as the first and only country to successfully deploy Bt brinjal. The farmer leaders also solicited insights and learning experiences that can help them communicate the plight of eggplant farmers in the Philippines to government, where its Supreme Court has permanently stopped the field trials of Bt eggplant, and nullified its operating regulations (Dept. of Agriculture Administrative Order No. 8) on research, field testing, commercialization, and importation of GM crops in the country.

According to GP Das, Country Coordinator for Bangladesh of the Feed the Future Biotechnology Partnership Project of Cornell University, this is the first time that farmers from another country are interacting with their officials and local farmers to share and learn from the Bangladesh experience. After it was approved for commercialization, Bt brinjal was planted in two hectares by 20 farmers in spring season and 10 hectares by 100 farmers in the winter season. Bt brinjal significantly increased the marketable yield of brinjal fruits thereby mitigating losses caused by wastage of infested and damaged fruits. In just over a year, expeditious cultivation of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh showed strong acceptance among brinjal farmers.
GP Das added that apart from the farmer-scientist and farmer-to-farmer interactions, it is also important that Filipino farmers learn how Bt brinjal was adopted by Bangladesh, what were the processes undertaken, hurdles surpassed, and how its country regulation and government supported the responsible stewardship of the technology. Strong political will of the government and public-private partnership for the technology were key to the successful approval and commercial cultivation.

Bt brinjal important in Bangladesh

“Brinjal is the most popular vegetable in Bangladesh and is consumed in rural and urban areas. It occupies 10 percent of the total land area planted to vegetables in Bangladesh,” explains Khan. Brinjal production in Bangladesh is currently at 3.45 mMT, but low production is attributed to insect infestation, the most rampant of which is the fruit and shoot borer (FSB).

He added that although there are more than 100 varieties of brinjal in Bangladesh, no natural resistance was found against the FSB. Similar to other countries, like the Philippines, to solve this problem, farmers in Bangladesh use pesticides indiscriminately. “Our farmers spray insecticide up to 84 times during a six to seven-month cropping season. This is comparable to Filipino farmers spraying their crops every day to prevent losses due to FSB. Pesticide cost is 32 percent of total cost of production. That’s why our government has to do something about the situation. Bangladesh has a large population, and our scientists acknowledge the fact that it is their responsibility to feed our people,” says Khan.

In October 2013, BARI released four varieties of Bt brinjal, which it currently produces. Initial production in 2014 was pegged at 90kg. This year, the government-run research institution is targeting 500kg, which will be awarded to 233 farmers, almost twice the number of beneficiaries as compared to the previous year. Bt brinjal can now be grown all-year-round in Bangladesh.

In 2015, average annual income of Bt brinjal farmers were estimated at Tk73,000. Adds Khan, “farmers preferred the use of Bt brinjal technology because pesticide use was reduced, followed by high crop yield, and easy marketability of the product because of its good quality and taste.”

In terms of regulation, Haider explained that “only genetically-engineered crops are regulated in Bangladesh, and all these products undergo biosafety processes. GM crops are regulated by the Ministry of Environment, while medical biotechnology is handled by the Ministry of Health.”

Says GP Das, “biotechnology should be used only on crops that have a big problem. In Bangladesh, regulation is a step-by-step process. We are moving slowly because seeds are not yet available. Research, on the other hand, is currently in full swing as we aim to develop Bt equivalents of all 16 popular brinjal varieties.”

After the field visit, some of the Filipino farmer leaders gave their insights on the whole experience. Rosalie Ellasus, farmer leader and municipal councilor in San Jacinto, Pangasinan, reflects on her Bangladesh experience. She says, “even though we weren’t able to get seeds, it was fulfilling to see a real Bt brinjal fruit and be assured that the technology really works --- lessens pesticide use and doesn’t harm the environment. I hope our government finally sees the light on this issue. We are losing so much because they are depriving us of this technology.”

Reynaldo Cabanao, president of the Asian Farmers Regional Network Philippines (ASFARNET Phils.) stated that he joined the study visit hoping he will be able to bring back seeds to the Philippines. Says Cabanao, “I am frustrated that BARI is unable to share seeds because Bt eggplant is prohibited in the Philippines. But learning about their farmers’ experiences and how much it has benefitted them in such a short time inspires us more to push for this technology. The Philippine government and Supreme Court should hear out the sentiments of Filipino farmers.”

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Photo Blog- Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh

Monday, May 2, 2016

In 2013 Bangladesh commercialised Bt eggplant, becoming the first developing country in the world to take a public sector genetically modified food crop to benefit smallholder farmers. Bt eggplant (or brinjal) carries a gene that makes it resistant to the main crop pest, fruit and shoot borer. This serious pest otherwise destroys over half the crop and forces farmers to spray toxic insecticides. Bt brinjal enables farmers to dramatically reduce their use of insecticides, by 80% or more, and thereby protect their health and the local environment.

This photostory illustrates the latest experiences of some of the farmers in Bangladesh who are currently growing Bt brinjal. These photos were taken by Feed the Future project leaders who visited these farmers and spoke with them in March 2016.

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Scientists and specialists meet Bt brinjal farmers and researchers in Bangladesh

Friday, May 20, 2016

“There is no substitute for seeing crop production on the ground in-country when you are trying to evaluate a project,” said Joe Huesing, senior biotechnology advisor with USDA-ARS/USAID. “It’s a good opportunity to meet with scientists, farmers and policymakers to discuss successes, challenges and strategies for the future.”

Huesing, along with the other four members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Project, visited Bangladesh from March 20‑24, 2016 to see Bt brinjal research and adoption.


Members of the Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement
Partnership Technical Advisory Committee
in the research fields in Dhaka
(l-r): Joe Huesing, Tony Shelton, Ushe Barwale Zehr, Steve Naranjo and Jeff Wolt.  
CREDIT: A.Hossain

Key activities included a visit to Bt brinjal fields at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) headquarters in Gazipur, and meetings to update the Honorable Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdury, MP, Abdul Kalam Azad, the Executive Chairman of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC), and Kamal Uddin Ahmed, the Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests, on project activities.

TAC members visited BARI’s On Farm Research Division (OFRD) Bogra station to see Bt brinjal experimental sites and share observations. They also visited Bt brinjal fields in Bogra to interact with farmers and see the Bt brinjal conditions in the field.

“The TAC’s first visit to Bangladesh helped members better understand Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Project activities in Bangladesh,” said Tony Shelton, Cornell entomologist and international professor who is the project director. “TAC members were able to share their observations and findings with the BARI scientists and officials, and discuss ongoing and future activities with key project officials in Bangladesh.”

TAC members include: Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondal, director general of BARI; Usha Barwale Zehr, director of research for Mahyco Seeds in India; Jeff Wolt, biotechnology risk analyst with Iowa State University; Steve Naranjo director of the USDA-ARS Center in AZ; and Nick Storer, global leader for scientific affairs in the biotechnology regulatory and government affairs group at Dow AgroSciences. The group was selected for their expertise in risk assessment for transgenic crops, integrated pest management, toxicology, Bt eggplant technology, and agronomic conditions on small farms in Bangladesh.

Tony Shelton (center) talks with Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondal (right), director general of BARI, about the bt eggplant project.   CREDIT: A. Hossain

Tony Shelton (center) talks with Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondal (right),
director general of BARI, about the bt eggplant project.  
CREDIT: A. Hossain

Bangladesh released four Bt brinjal varieties in October 2013. Before Bt brinjal, farmers had to spray pesticide 80-100 times each season to protect their fields from fruit and shoot borer infestation. Farmers threw away a major portion of their harvested brinjal caused by the waste of infested and damaged fruits. Farmers in Bangladesh have strongly accepted and cultivated Bt brinjal, as it requires no insecticide for the fruit and shoot borer insect, and allows them to sell 100 percent of the harvested crop.

Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership Project

The Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership addresses and integrates all elements of the commercialization process — including technology development, regulation, marketing, seed distribution, and product stewardship. It also provides strong platforms for policy development, capacity building, gender equality, outreach, and communication.

To strengthen capacity to develop and disseminate genetically engineered eggplant in Bangladesh and the Philippines, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded Cornell University a $4.8 million, three-year grant. The award supports USAID’s work under Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global initiative to fight hunger and improve food security using agricultural science and technology.

In addition to Cornell University, partners in the project include the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) and the University of the Philippines at Los Baños. As a staple crop, eggplant, or brinjal, generates income for smallholder farmers and is an important source of nutrition for farmers and consumers in South Asia.

Md. Arif Hossain
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Matia: GM crop cultivation to continue

Monday, August 22, 2016

The government will continue plans allowing Genetically Modified (GM) crop cultivation, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury told a discussion yesterday on rice production in Asia and food security in Bangladesh.

“But we must take care that none is affected. But we will do whatever is needed. Once we heard criticisms for allowing hybrids here to increase food production. Today the next step is GMO (genetically modified organism),” she said.

Earlier conservative, Europe even expressed intent recently to go for GMO, she told the programme organised by Bangladesh Agricultural Journalists and Activists Federation (BAJAF) in AKM Giasuddin Milky Auditorium at Khamarbari.


The Daily Star
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Workshop on Bt eggplant brings researchers and journalists together

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI) and Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership jointly organized a day-long workshop on “Bt Eggplant Research and Development” that brought together representatives from public research institutes, academia, government agencies, USAID and media at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Dhaka on March 23, 2017.

The workshop was divided into two sessions- an inaugural session and a technical session. Honorable Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, MP was present as the chief guest of the inaugural session chaired by Mr. Mohammad Nazmul Islam, Secretary (Routine Charge), Ministry of Agriculture. Other participants included Md. Manjurul Hannan, Director General DAE, Mr. Md. Raisul Alam Mondal, Director General, DoE, MoEF, Mr. Matt Curtis, EG Director of USAID Bangladesh and Dr. Mohammod Jalal Uddin, Executive Chairman, BARC as the special guest. Prof. Anthony M. Shelton, Director, Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership was present as the guest of honor of the event. Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Director General, BARI provided the welcome address of the workshop.

Honorable Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, MP

Honorable Agriculture Minister Begum Matia Chowdhury, MP said,” Development of brinjal fruit and shoot insect resistant Bt brinjal is a success story of local and foreign collaboration. Bt brinjal is now in the farmers’ field. In 2014, 20 farmers grew Bt brinjal and in 2017 at least 5500 farmers are growing Bt brinjal with the help of BARI and DAE using good quality seeds produced by BARI. This year BARI is producing 800 kg Bt brinjal seeds. I congratulate USAID for supporting the Bt brinjal activities in Bangladesh.”

The Honorable Minister said, “We will be guided by the science based information, not by the nonscientific whispering of a section of people. Good science will move on its own course keeping the anti-science people down. She also said,” As human beings, it is our moral obligation that all people in our country should get food and not go to bed on an empty stomach. Biotechnology can play an important role in this effect.

Tony Shelton speaking with journalists

Prof. Anthony Shelton briefly discussed the objective of the workshop. He said,” Bt brinjal is a very valuable technology. It does an excellent job of controlling eggplant fruit and shoot borer. This technology is very valuable and has to be grown with proper stewardship and in the context of integrated pest management (IPM). If not, this valuable technology will be lost in a matter of a few years when insects evolve resistance to it. “

“Proper stewardship is needed for the long-term sustainability of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh. So now and in the future proper stewardship activities must be implemented. Cornell University and Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership are ready and willing to help support stewardship activities for the long-term durability of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh,” he added.

In his remarks Mr. Matt Curtis, USAID Bangladesh, said, “Bt brinjal is a technology that improves the food safety of the consumers and it also protects the producers.” He continued by stating,” USAID is proud to partner with Bangladesh since it continues to be a key US ally in South Asia. In terms of the Feed the Future Program, Bt eggplant is a long-term investment between USAID and Bangladesh.” 

Mr. Anwar Faruque, Former Secretary, MoA chaired the technical session of the workshop. BARI scientists presented studies showing the excellent performance of Bt brinjal in field studies. Additional presentations focused on frequently asked questions about Bt brinjal and thoughts about the future of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh. The session was followed by an open discussion. Mr. Mohammad Nazmul Islam made the concluding remarks of the workshop.

Arif Hossain
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Bangladesh March for Science

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

On April 22, people of Bangladesh took to the street to show their support for science.

Watch the video

1. Key Activities at SAU: Rally, Seminar and Open Discussion at SAU participated by about 300 people. The rally titled: ‘Science Unites, Time to React’; Seminar titled: ‘Prospect of Agricultural Biotechnology for Sustainable Food Security in Bangladesh’.  Renowned sectoral experts and students participated in the seminar including national level media representatives. In open discussion session youths and students asked questions to the scientists about agri-biotech, GMO, agricultural science and general science issues. All the activities including rally, seminar keynote presentation, speech and discussion have been broadcasted live in the event Facebook page. Journalists and other people attended the seminar virtually who failed to participate in person at the venue. Scientists and participants requested for a continuation of this effort and request AFS to create more opportunities for knowledge sharing, learning and engagement for evidence based science learning and information dissemination. 

2. Key Activities at BAU & JU: Rally, group discussion and quiz competition at BAU participate by about 50 people. The rally titled: ‘Science Unites, Time to React’; a good number of participants of the BAU shared stories, photos, a short video production in the event page. The also shared the rally video in social media to engagement people virtually. The organisers of JU made relatively small rally and group discussion and one-one conversation. 

All credit goes to the organisers, supporters and campaigners of the Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University (SAU), Bangladesh Agricultural University(BAU) and Jahangirnagar University (JU). We are grateful to the campaign partners: SAU, BAU, JU, SAUPS, Shekribi Bondhushova, Youth Engagement partner the Daily Star, Media partner Bigganchinta (Prothom-alo), Shout (Daily Star), 71 TV and Event partner Candyfloss for this brilliant, innovative and successful movement in Bangladesh. On behalf of the campaigners and supporters of the March for Science-Bangladesh team I would like to thank the FTFBP, AFS, Sathguru Team and March for Science global campaigners for continuous support and inspiration for our movement in Bangladesh. 

I believe each and every supporters and campaigners have their own stories in regard to the campaign.  T

Arif Hossain
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Experts emphasize stewardship and science-based communications for the development of genetically engineered crops in Bangladesh

Friday, September 1, 2017

Biotechnology and communication experts from international and national research institutes, universities, government and development organisations emphasized the importance of stewardship and coordinated communication about research and development related to genetically engineered crops in Bangladesh. They met at a workshop jointly organised by the Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI), the Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership and the Feed the Future Biotech Potato Partnership, held at the Hotel Six Seasons in Dhaka on August 28, 2017.

Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, Director General, BARI, chief guest of the inaugural session chaired by Dr. Md. Lutfur Rahman, Director of Research, BARI, said, “Sometimes communication is easy and sometimes it’s difficult. Many poems are written on one moon by many people so it depends on conceptualisation and perception. The appropriate ways of communication need to be identified and implemented to make the information sharing effective. Today’s Communications Coordination workshop is very useful for Bt brinjal and late blight resistant (LBR) potato as we are working on these two crops.”

Experts shared a number of technical papers and evaluated national and international communication and stakeholder-partnership efforts, including existing best practices for stewardship and biotechnology communications. The organizers aim to foster a more coordinated strategy for research, development and stewardship of genetically engineered crops in Bangladesh, according to Dr. Vijay Paranjape, of Sathguru Management, Ltd., one of the partners.

Mr. Mohammad Nazmul Islam, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, chief guest of the closing session, chaired by Dr. Abul Kalam Azad, said, “Due to the efforts of our scientists, now we get many vegetables round the year. I personally visited many Bt brinjal fields and farmers are getting more price than other conventional varieties using the same production methods. We will adopt new innovations and will try to expand those through our extension systems.”

To date, several varieties of Bt brinjal have been approved in Bangladesh. The Feed the Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership is working with BARI to bring these varieties to Bangladeshi farmers. Bt brinjal significantly reduces insecticide use and improves the yields of smallholder farmers. The Feed the Future Biotechnology Potato Partnership is developing farmer-preferred potato varieties in Bangladesh that are resistant to late blight, a disease which can decimate entire crops, devastating local food supplies and farmers’ livelihoods. Feed the Future is an initiative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Mr. David Westerling, Deputy Director and the Feed the Future team lead, Economic Growth Office, USAID Bangladesh said, “In order to see it to adulthood and capitalise on its potential with the ultimate commercialisation of Bt eggplant and LBR potato, we need to continue to develop a comprehensive communications strategy and policy framework and educate the public on biotechnology’s contributions to creating an environmentally sustainable agricultural sector and food secure Bangladesh.”

Dr. ASM Mahbubur Rahman Khan, Chief Scientific Officer and Head, OFRD, BARI, delivered the keynote presentation. Dr. Jahangir Hossain, In-Country Coordinator for the project, played a major role in organising the workshop. Among others who participated were: Md. Golam Maruf, Director General, DAE, Dr. Dil Afroza Khanam, CSO and Head, Biotech Division, BARI, BARI scientists and researchers, Md. Arif Hossain, Communications Coordinator and lead for Bangladesh Alliance for Science, Dr. John W Medendorp, Project Manager, Michigan State, Dr. Karen Hokanson, Bt Brinjal Project, Cornell, Dr. Jill Kuehnert, SeedStories, Linda McCandless, Director Communications, International Programs-Cornell University, delegates of USAID, BRRI, IRRI and officials of the Feed the Future projects on biotech eggplant and potato in Bangladesh.

Md. Arif Hossain
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Stewardship is key for sustenance of Bt eggplant

Monday, November 6, 2017

DHAKA, BANGLADESH: After its approval in 2013, the number of farmers adopting Bt eggplant in Bangladesh is steadily increasing, from 20 farmers in 2013-14 to 6500 in 2016-17 and is likely to continue to grow in the coming years.  With other GM products in the pipeline in Bangladesh, there is a need for an organization-wide approach to drive stewardship rather than project-by-project approach, according to Dr. Vijay Paranjape, stewardship coordinator, Bangladesh, for the Feed The Future South Asia Eggplant Improvement Partnership.


Dr. Vijay Paranjape addresses the meeting of stakeholders
in the Feed the Future South Asia Biotechnology Partnership,
at the August meeting in Dhaka.

As part of a three-day workshop held in Dhaka, August 27-29, experts emphasized the importance of stewardship and communication in sustaining biotech technology in Bangladesh for the Bt eggplant and Late Blight Resistant Potato projects. Stewardship is the responsible way to manage biotechnology-derived plant products from discovery and development, to use and eventual adoption. A structured approach based on the guidelines of “Excellence Through Stewardship” principles is essential to sustain the technology. (

“A stewardship program needs to be implemented at all stages of product development from research in the laboratory, to activities in containment facilities, to confined field trials, to plant and seed multiplication/production and commercial seed distribution,” said Dr. Paranjape, who also works for Sathguru Management Consultants. “Organizations need to have a quality management system that comprises the systems and processes to establish stewardship and maintain quality in each phase of the product life cycle.”

An effective stewardship program:

  • Supports regulatory compliance
  • Maintains product integrity – purity, identity and traceability of product
  • Assists in preventing trade disruptions
  • Maximizes technology benefits to farmers/consumers
  • Shares best practices
  • Promotes stakeholder engagement / gains trust
  • Drives continuous improvement

Implementation of successful stewardship and communication programs requires the participation of all stakeholders associated with the development of Bt eggplant and other biotech crops like Late Blight Resistant Potato and Golden Rice, according to Dr. Paranjape.

Vijay Paranjape