A Decade of Conflicts among the Experts on Commercialization of Genetically Modified Crop: The Birth of Bacillus thuringiensis Brinjal in Bangladesh

Amir Ahmed


Commercialization of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) brinjal1, the first genetically modified (GM) crop in Bangladesh encountered huge criticism from a section of green groups and environmentalists despite its enormous agronomic potentials claimed by the scientist and biotechnology industry. To address the underlying reasons of this controversy and to identify the domains of conflict among various stakeholders, an investigation was conducted involving experts in Bangladesh. This qualitative research incorporates findings from 35 interview data analyzed using Nvivo. The findings reveal that experts are in general positive toward the introduction of Bt brinjal in the agricultural system of Bangladesh because of its proven agronomic advantages over conventional varieties. A considerably small segment of experts, mostly the supporters of GM-free farming is skeptic about the approval of any GM crop. This skepticism seems to be linked with a cognitive Distrust of the opponents in the regulatory affairs of genetically modified organisms (GMOs)2. Reassurance of strict GMOs regulation may gradually improve the situation. Issues relating to regulatory constrain and trade-related economic or political threats are more vigilant components of GM debate in Bangladesh. The result also indicates that a considerable amount of doubt exists among the experts about proper labeling of Bt brinjal at farm and retail levels due to lack of enforcement mechanism. Mandatory labeling of Bt brinjal would be more effective and meaningful in tandem with mass consumer awareness about the benefits of GM crop. Type of risk and its magnitude would be the determinant factors to answer whether or not benefits of Bt brinjal would outweigh the possible risk of GMOs if any such risk comes into view in future. It gives an impression that the rumor of Bt brinjal failure reported by local media was ostensibly a manoeuvre of particular interest groups. The analysis also recommends that the government should invite all interested parties to attain a shared understanding about the biosafety framework, regulatory action, and risk management measure of GM crops in Bangladesh. The findings will provide significant insight to the policy planners, researchers, and biotechnology industries to comprehend various aspects of conflict and find out possible cooperation for fostering sustainable commercialization of GM crops in Bangladesh.

Aus. & NewZe J. Soci Busi. Env. Sus. Vol 3(1), April 2017, P 1-17


Genetically Modified Crop; Bacillus thuringiensis Brinjal; Biotechnology; Controversy; Experts, Bangladesh

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