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Bangladesh approves cultivation of genetically modified eggplant

Bangladesh has approved commercial cultivation of genetically modified eggplant resistant to insect damage, marking a significant breakthrough after seven years of research, a top government official said Friday.

Bangladesh becomes the 29th country in the world to commercially grow a genetically modified crop. Genetic modification of crops is one of the most controversial and polarizing issues in global agriculture. It is contested by environmental activists on concerns over food safety even as scientists research on transgenic crops to tackle drought, salinity and pest-related problems in agriculture.

"Cultivation of four varieties of Bt brinjal eggplant has been approved by the environment ministry and planting will start this month," Director General of the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute Rafiqul Islam Mondal told The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Mondal said cultivation will be done under strict monitoring, on a limited scale and the four varieties will be specific to four different regions.

December-January is the main planting season for eggplant in Bangladesh though it is also grown in the highlands over June and July.

Separately, Bangladesh is researching on genetically modified potatoes to tackle the serious disease called "late blight of potato," but trials will take up to three years, he said.


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