AGRICULTURE & APPROVALS: Bangladesh: Government to introduce GM cotton
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TITLE: BANGLADESH: GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE GM COTTON
SOURCE: Dhaka Tribune
AUTHOR: Abu Bakar Siddique
SUMMARY: "The government has made a move to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton varieties at farmers? level in the country, following the release of four brinjal varieties for demonstration last month."
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BANGLADESH: GOVERNMENT TO INTRODUCE GM COTTON
The government has made a move to introduce genetically modified (GM) cotton varieties at farmers? level in the country, following the release of four brinjal varieties for demonstration last month.
However, the GM variety named Bt cotton would not be prepared in the country. The seeds will be directly imported from Indian seed producer Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company (Mahyco) or other companies from China.
?We have already talked to Mahyco and they agreed to provide us an ample supply as per our requirements,? said Md Abdul Latif, executive director of Cotton Development Board (CDB), adding that China was yet to show interest on the CDB?s proposal.
The CDB has already decided to import the Bt variety and has sent an application to the agriculture ministry so that they could forward the application to the environment ministry, who will give the final approval to demonstrate any GM crop variety on farmers level, Latif added.
He also said authorities were hoping to run a ?confined trial? of Bt variety from next season during June-July of 2014.
Muhammad Solaiman Haider, member secretary of the National Committee on Bio-safety under the environment ministry, told the Dhaka Tribune, they would look into the matter after getting the application from the agriculture ministry.
Genetically modified crops like cotton, golden rice, Bt brinjals and potatoes are ?transgenic? crops, and need special approval from bio-safety authorities for field trials.
Bt cotton is a variety developed through genetic engineering by inserting crystal protein genes taken from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, popularly known as Bt which is copyrighted by American seed giants Monsanto.
The CDB demands that the Bt variety will increase the yield of cotton, as it is highly capable of preventing ?American Bollworm,? one of the biggest threats to cotton.
However, seeking anonymity, an official told the Dhaka Tribune that introducing Bt cotton in Bangladesh would not bring any good result as the American Bollworm?s tendency to attack cotton had been reduced remarkably in recent years.
According to Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), the country requires 3.5m to 4m bales of raw cotton to run approximately 363 textile mills for meeting the spinning demands of the country?s garment sector.
Against the demand, the country only produces around 150,000 bales by using around 40,000 hectares of arable land, said sources at the CDB.
Only around 2% to 3% of the national requirement was fulfilled through local production, while the rest was fulfilled by importing raw cotton from Uzbekistan, India, USA, Australia, Pakistan and different African countries.
Earlier on October 30, the government released four GM brinjal varieties at farmers? level to demonstrate on a limited scale, amid concerns by environment activists that the health impact of Bt brinjal was yet to be scrutinised.
The government had also recently approved the decision of holding ?confined trials? for two other GM crop varieties ? golden rice and potato ? which are being developed by Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) and Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) respectively.