Agriculture Minister Dr Abdur Razzaque on Wednesday said the government has come up with hybrid varieties including GMOs to ensure availability of safe and nutritious food.
The minister was speaking at a policy workshop titled ‘Agricultural Transformation in Bangladesh: Evidence on Biotechnology and Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture’ at Hotel Intercontinental Dhaka.The programme was organised jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture, and Bangladesh Policy Research and Strategy Support Program (PRSSP) of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
The minister said: “Our agricultural production has increased but our farmers are not getting fair price for the products they produce, which make them feel discouraged.
“On the other hand, all people are not able to purchase nutritious food from the market. For this we have to increase their purchasing power and improve the marketing of agricultural products.
“To meet the growing needs of food and to face future food shortages, new varieties should be developed.
“The government is trying to make sure that new varieties are not harmful for the environment and the human body.”
Abdur Razzaque claimed that the adaptation of GM technology was a success story of the government though there was opposition against it from different quarters from the beginning.“We don’t find any problem with BT brinjal,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary (In-charge) of the Agriculture Ministry Md. Nasiruzzaman said when they took a move to improve the country’s agriculture, some people raised their voice against it.
IFPRI country representative Akhter Ahmed presented the impact of BT Brinjal Technology in Bangladesh.
The study said that BT brinjal farmers significantly reduced applications and amount of pesticide sprayed while fruit and shoot borer infestation was nearly eliminated among BT brinjal plants.
Lower use of pesticide has reduced the production cost, it said adding that BT brinjal yield increased by 40 percent.
Commenting on the study, Executive Director of Krishi Gobeshona Foundation and former executive chairman of Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council Wais Kabir said that BT technology was adopted in Bangladesh but India and the Philippines could not go ahead with the genetically modified technology though they began using the technology before Bangladesh.
He said BT brinjal are being marketed in Bangladesh without labeling, depriving people of their right to know and choice if they would consume BT brinjal or not.
He also expressed concern that the BT gene could be pollinated to other crops from BT brinjal if proper segregation is not maintained.
Chairing the technical session, BRAC Institute of Governance and Development Executive Director and International Growth Centre Country Director Imran Matin said that governance and regulation was imperative in using BT technology as the adaptation of biotechnology was to protect the future generation from the challenges of ensuring safe and nutritious foods.