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Philippines Becomes the 2nd Country to Approve Commercial Production of BT Eggplant.

The Philippines has become the world's second country to allow commercial growing of Bt eggplant.

Sonali Behera
Bt brinjal, often known as eggplant, is a GM cultivar that is resistant to the fruit and shoot borer.
Bt brinjal, often known as eggplant, is a GM cultivar that is resistant to the fruit and shoot borer.

The long wait is now over, as commercial production of the borer-resistant Bt Eggplant (Event EE-1) in the Philippines has been approved for October 2022. With this regulatory milestone, the Philippines becomes the world's second country, after Bangladesh, to permit commercial propagation of borer-resistant Bt eggplant.

The Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture granted the "Biosafety Permit for Commercial Propagation (No. 22-001 Propa)" of Bt Eggplant (Event EE-1) to the University of the Philippines Los Banos under the DOST-DA-DENR-DOH-DILG Joint Department Circular (JDC) No. 1, Series of 2021. (UPLB).

The Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority certified the Event EE-1 as a Plant Incorporated Protectant (Group 11A Insecticide) following stringent and detailed biosafety assessments by the Joint Assessment Group comprising members from Competent National Authorities-Biosafety Committees. Before this commercial propagation permission, the DA-BPI authorized Bt eggplant for direct use as food, feed, or processing (21-078FFP) on July 21, 2021, confirming its safety for human consumption.

For many years, the eggplant fruit and shoot borer was the most destructive insect pest in the Philippines, with yearly losses of up to 73 percent.

According to research, Bt eggplant includes a natural protein derived from the soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis that renders its resistance to the eggplant fruit and shoot borer (EFSB). This Bt protein is solely harmful to EFSB larvae and is harmless to people, animals, and other non-target arthropods.

There has also been scientific proof that Bt eggplants are safe not just for human consumption but also for the environment, such as the 2016 research on the influence of Bt eggplants on non-target arthropods. The study found that eggplant types expressing the event EE-1 are unlikely to offer more environmental concerns when grown in open areas than non-Bt eggplant equivalents. The study also revealed that Bt eggplant might be an important part of the Integrated Pest Management program, particularly for EFSB, while significantly lowering reliance on conventional pesticides.

Earlier Bt corn's commercial propagation of seed production, varietal registration, and farm demonstrations will now be part of Bt brinjal. Concurrent with the pilot planting operations, a comprehensive grower education campaign will be introduced as part of product sustainability in the following year.

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