Farmers, who were given Bt brinjal saplings, on Sunday demanded compensation for huge losses they incurred cultivating the genetically modified crop.
At a press conference at Dhaka Reporters’ Unity, they alleged that they were ‘fooled’ and used as ‘guinea pig’ for the cultivation of the genetically modified Bt brinjal by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, but they were not compensated for the losses.
The institute, under an USAID project, released Bt brinjal owned by US seed giant Monsanto and its Indian affiliate Mahyco, saying that it was a high-yielding variety of brinjal resistant to fruit and shoot borer.
The agriculture minister, Matia Chowdhury, on January 22, handed over the Bt brinjal saplings to 20 farmers in Gazipur, Jamalpur, Sherpur, Rangpur and Pabna for cultivation. Only one of the 20 Bt brinjal fields succeeded, while 13 were fully and the rest six were partially damaged, the organisers of the press conference said.
Bt brinjal farmers from Gazipur, Jamalpur and Sherpur attended the press conference, while the organisers alleged that other farmers from Rangpur and Pabna were barred from attending the press conference by the institute officials and ruling party men.
Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association, Unnayan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona (UBINIG), Consumers Association of Bangladesh, Bangladesh Organic Product Manufacturers Association, Bangladesh Fruits, Vegetables and Allied Products Exporters Association and seven other organisations organised the press conference in association with UKAID and British Council.
The farmers said that their fields were damaged although they followed all the instructions of the institute.They asked all the farmers of the country not to cultivate Bt brinjal any more and said they would protest against any government move to further release of Bt brinjal saplings.
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