Myth: Bt brinjal will endanger Bangladesh vegetable export markets

Truth: While it is true that Bt brinjal exported to other countries would need regulatory approval in those countries as a genetically-modified product, brinjal exports have never been recorded from Bangladesh either to Europe or to the South Asian region. Therefore, Bt brinjal cultivated in Bangladesh can be expected to be consumed in the country, where it has received government approval after passing stringent health, safety and environmental scientific assessments. In addition, there is no justification for genetic modification in brinjal to affect exports (even organic exports) of other vegetables – studies have shown that there is no realistic prospect of gene flow from brinjal to unrelated plant species, and no instances of hybridization with wild species and brinjal have ever been reported. Brinjal does not cross-pollinate easily, as can be seen from the fact that hundreds of different landraces/varieties of brinjal have continued to persist over many years in genetically ‘pure’ form without hybridization. Bt brinjal can thus be managed by farmers and seed producers to address any concern about gene flow to other brinjal varieties, and should not have any effect on existing export markets of fruits and vegetables from Bangladesh.