What’s in the test reports of BTI?

LGRD minister Tajul Islam and DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam showing packets of BTI at the inaugural event of the BTI progamme on 3 August, 2023
Prothom Alo

Two government agencies have sent the test reports of mosquito larvicide BTI (Bacillus Thuringiensis Israelensis) bacteria imported from China using the name of a renowned Singapore-based company, to the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC). The test result says that it is effective against the larvae.

The government’s Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research (IEDCR) and the Plant Protection Wing of the Department of Agricultural Extension conducted the tests for BTI imported for the DNCC. Both the agencies sent the test rest results on Sunday.

Local contracting agency Marshal Agrovet Chemical Industries was the supplier of this consignment of BTI provided to the DNCC. As per the condition of the tender, there was no scope to import BTI from. However, the agency brought it from China, but used the name of a Singapore company on the labels.

The DNCC sent the samples of BTI to the IEDCR to test whether it was effective against the mosquito larvae. Besides, the samples were also sent to the Plant Protection Wing to check whether the BTI imported by the DNCC was fake or real.

The test found mosquito larviciding bacteria BTI in the samples sent by the DNCC. It was mentioned on the label of the packets of the BTI that there should be 1,200 bacteria per milligram. However, those two government agencies have found even more bacteria than that mentioned on the label during the test.

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The Plant Protection Unit also made some recommendations over using BTI stressing the need of applying it on an experimental basis at the field level under the supervision of experts.

Meanwhile, the IEDCR ran the test at its entomology laboratory to verify its efficiency. The IEDCR says they collected the mosquito larvae from the Mohakhali area in the capital for the test and applied the imported BTI four times. In three of the attempts, some 92 per cent of the larvae were killed within 24 hours of applying BTI and some 88 per cent larvae were killed in the fourth trial.

Speaking to Prothom Alo, DNCC mayor Atiqul Islam said, “We started applying the BTS on pilot basis only after being confirmed about its authenticity and effectiveness through tests run by the DNCC. And today we have got the reports from the Plant Protection Unit and IEDCR. Now it is proven through these tests that it is BTI and it is effective for killing the larvae.

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“Earlier, the imported BTI was proven to be effective during a test at a laboratory of the Jahangirnagar University as well as in the test conducted by the DNCC review committee. Now, with the same outcome of the test conducted by two government agencies, there is no confusion over its authenticity and efficacy anymore,” the DNCC mayor added.

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Speaking regarding taking legal actions against the fraudulent contractor, Atiqul Islam said, “The importer has deceived us by using false information on the label. The legal process over this is to be continued. Nobody involved in corruption and irregularities won’t be spared. Now it is our decision to decide whether we will use that BTI or not.”

Speaking regarding using this fraudulently imported BTI, entomologist and professor of the zoology department of the Jahangirnagar University, Kabirul Bashar said, “People are dying of dengue. So if we could apply the BTI, it would help us to contain the situation to some extent at least.”

Speaking regarding the fraudulence, professor Kabirul Bashar said that the test results do not mean that the supplier didn’t do anything wrong. Despite importing the BTI from China, the agency said it was purchased from the Best Chemicals of Singapore.

*This report appeared on the print an online versions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ashish Basu