By Gene Hall
What I remember most about eggplant is that my grandmother would make me eat it. In parts of the world, it’s very popular. One of those places is Bangladesh, where a new genetically modified variety is well on its way to being planted there.
It’s called brinjal and it’s a nutritional boon, being high in fiber and a whole passel of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The problem is, the fruit and shoot borer (FSB) likes brinjal, too, to the tune of a 50 to 70 percent loss of the crop. Farmers in Bangladesh have been dealing with that by spraying pesticides, apparently a lot of them. Though judicious use of pesticides is a globally accepted best management practice, spraying dozens of times is not what experts or even chemical companies recommend on most crops.
That much spraying is not good for the eggplant or the farmer who is most likely applying it by hand sprayer. The genetically modified variety resists the borer without as much pesticide, providing safer production methods and dramatically reducing costs.
Bangladesh will become the 29th country in the world over the past two decades to embrace this technology. Predictably, activists in wealthy and well-fed countries remain automatically opposed to GM products, boldly marching into the past while a poor nation takes steps to improve its food supply.
Less pesticide, more of a valuable food staple, better health for farmers and a safer product. This one is a slam dunk. Like in every other aspect of our lives, rejecting proven technology is a poor choice. Pass the brinjal.