Philippines approves cultivation of Bt brinjal
A GM plant is one in which genes have been tweaked or introduced from outside to give it new traits, such as pest resistance or nutritional enhancement.
Philippines has approved commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal — a genetically modified (GM) vegetable developed in India — the second country after Bangladesh to do so, according to a regulatory permit obtained by the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB)’s The College of Agriculture and Food Sciences (CAFS).
Bt brinjal or eggplant is a GM variety that is resistant to a pest called fruit and shoot borer. A GM plant is one in which genes have been tweaked or introduced from outside to give it new traits, such as pest resistance or nutritional enhancement.
The Bt eggplant project in the Philippines started in 2003 as a public-private partnership between the Institute of Plant Breeding of UPLB, India’s Mahyco Pvt Ltd and Cornell University. The project has funding support from USAID (United States Agency for International Development ), department of agriculture-biotechnology programme office, and Bureau of Agriculture Research, Philippines. “The long wait has finally ended with the approval of commercial cultivation of the borer-resistant Bt Eggplant (Event EE-1) in the Philippines on October 18, 2022,” said a statement issued by John Albert Caraan, project development officer of the Bt eggplant project for the Institute of Plant Breeding, CAFS, UPLB.
India’s biotech regulator, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), had approved Bt brinjal in 2009 for commercial release but was banned by the then environment minister Jairam Ramesh following protests. The technology behind Bt brinjal, which has a gene derived from naturally occurring bacteria, was indigenously developed by Indian scientists. Bangladesh approved it for cultivation in 2014.
“The biosafety approval for commercial propagation allows us to scale up our operations and ensure the availability of the Bt eggplant seeds in the coming years”, the statement cited Lourdes Taylo, the lead of the Bt eggplant project in the Philippines, as saying.