Terror is not the only commodity that is entering Bengal through the Bangladesh border. At a time when controversies and debates over the introduction of genetically modified (GM) crops are raging in the country and the scientific community is yet to give its opinion, Bt Brinjal seeds are being smuggled into West Bengal and farmers in the state are believed to have sown the crop in several districts.
Unlike in India, which has only recently allowed field trials of some GM crops, Bt Brinjal has been introduced in Bangladesh in 2013 and seeds are freely available.
“We have received information that seeds of Bt Brinjal are being smuggled into the country through the Indo-Bangla border in West Bengal... We are concerned about it as GM crops could have disastrous effect on both human beings and our biodiversity in the years to come. The smuggling is being reported from bordering districts such as Nadia and Murshidabad. We have asked district officials to remain alert and investigate the matter,” state’s agriculture minister Purnendu Basu told HT.
“We are aware of the problem and have submitted a deputation to the governor in September. Bt Brinjal, from seeds brought in from Bangladesh, is now being cultivated on the banks of river Ajoy that flows between Birbhum and Burdwan,” said Nandalal Kat, general secretary of the Bengal chapter of All India Kisan Sangha.
Despite the moratorium on Bt Brinjal in India, Bangladesh became the first country in South Asia to allow its cultivation last year.