Farming Future Bangladesh (FFB) is a comprehensive communications initiative funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help improve awareness about modern agricultural innovations including crop biotechnology in Bangladesh.

NGO and Civil Society

Description

FFB will support and leverage the activities of Agribiotech Advocacy Alliance and similar organizations in Bangladesh. Social champions like celebrities, social media activists, farmers will be engaged and motivated to promote science- based information about benefits of GMOs and agribiotech.

Since 1996, 2 billion hectares of arable land have been planted with GM crops. Additionally, it is estimated that farmers in up to 28 countries have reaped more than US$150 billion in benefits from biotech crops since 1996. This has helped alleviate poverty for up to 16.5 million small farmers and their families annually totaling about 65 million people, among which are some of the poorest people in the world. Bangladesh is advancing in the fields of crop biotechnology and genetic engineering. The country commercialized its first genetically engineered food crop Bt brinjal in 2013 developed by Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) in collaboration with Cornell University with support from the USAID. According to ISAAA about 27,000 smallholder farmers planted Bt-brinjal in the winter season of 2017 – the fourth year of commercial cultivation in Bangladesh which was a 242% increase in adoption. BARI is also developing single gene LBR potato and in collaboration with Michigan State University developing 3R gene LBR resistant GE potato variety. Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI) developed beta carotene enriched Rice (Golden Rice) in collaboration with IRRI and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. High Zinc and Iron rice varieties are under development. BRRI is collaborating with Arcadia Bioscience to develop a salt-tolerant transgenic rice variety. The Cotton Development Board (CDB) has initiated the research of GE cotton variety resistant to Bollworm and Spodoptera worm.

Currently, there is no advocacy platform in Bangladesh to coordinate the comprehensive efforts of policy advocacy and awareness building of agri-biotechnology issues. The proposed “Advocacy Group of Agri-biotechnology in Bangladesh” Alliance will help to connect and engage experts from multiple disciplines to ensure sustainable food security to meet the Sustainable Development Goals and help policymakers, researchers, academia, students, media people, and others understand the complexity of agribiotechnology and modern agriculture to keep pace with the competitive global development scenario to become a developed country by 2041.

Prominent environmentalists, civil society representatives, INGOs/NGOs and business associations will be engaged in communication, outreach and capacity building programs. FFB leadership will meet with NGO/INGOs working on food, nutrition, climate change and environmental issues. Partnership and further collaboration with like-minded NGOs will be explored.

In consultation with national and international partner organizations, FFB will develop proactive mechanisms to engage the policy and regulatory members of Bangladesh. Regular engagement with FFB activities will help regulators to understand and comply with international best practices which will be beneficial for overall enabling environment for biotechnology in Bangladesh.