By Shayan S. Khan – Dhaka Courier, 30 June 2016


Bt Beguner Bismbad (2016)


Faisal Rahman, Delowar Jahan, Pavel Partha and Yasir Wardad

Chhobir Lorai

Faced with a government machinery visibly determined to ride roughshod over all dissenting voices in its quest to establish ‘the way of science’, a new documentary  – Bt Beguner Bisambad (BT Brinjal In the Dock)– seeks to bring back some of the issues surrounding the controversial initiative to introduce genetically modified brinjal crops in Bangladesh squarely into focus. It does this most compellingly by driving home the point that this supposedly scientific intervention on behalf of Bangladeshi farmers, that has largely been developed and marketed under the aegis of US agrochemicals giant Monsanto (plus its Indian outpost Mahyco), has in fact been forced upon them most unscientifically – based on woefully muddied research, and an alarmingly hurried testing cycle. Many of the farmers who took part in trials want out already.

In a February 2016 article for The Ecologist, Farida Akhter, executive director of UBINIG and one of the strongest voices against the introduction of Bt brinjal in Bangladesh, wrote: ”[H]ardly any of the farmers who grew the GM plants in previous years have come back for more after their crops wilted, failed to ripen, or were devastated by pests.” This was after UBINIG contacted 40 farmers in 9 districts who had previously taken part in two trials carried out among 128 farmers over 2014-15, and found that 37 of them had not been contacted by the authorities, nor were they themselves interested in growing Bt brinjal. A third trial run was underway at the time, amongst 200 farmers. The results have so far been very closely guarded.



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