Participating in a seminar on Biotechnology in Agriculture at the Vibrant Gujarat Global Agriculture Summit-2013 on Tuesday,various speakers strongly supported the introduction of genetically modified crops as a measure for food security as well as boosting agricultural activities in the country.
Inaugurating the seminar,Swapan Kumar Dutta,deputy director general (crop science) at the New Delhi-based Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) said that if GM technology was not good or beneficial,92 per cent of the total cotton crops in the country would not have been Bt.
Farmers went for it because it increased their cotton production and enhanced their income, said Dutta. He said that Gujarat,where Bt cotton was introduced first in the country,witnessed an increase of production from 175 kg per hectare in 2002-2003 to 689 kg per hectare after the introduction of Bt variety.
S R Rao,senior scientist at the Department of Biotechnology in the Union Ministry of Science and Technology,said that India could become number one in agricultural production by introducing GM technology in agriculture. He said that some people were opposing GM food due to their personal motives. The GM crops were introduced after full bio-safety trials,he said. To meet the growing food requirement of India and the world,there was no other alternative other than GM crops for food security.
Rajiv Modi,chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industry (Gujarat chapter) and Cadila Pharmaceuticals managing director,said that Gujarat farmers took advantage of the new technology by adopting Bt cotton 10 years ago.
Allaying fears that GM food caused diseases,Monsantos India representative Mohammed Oufattole said that Americans have consumed it for the last 15 years,but they were healthy. He said that India had the potential to become a major exporter of agricultural produce if GM technology was allowed in food crops as well. Minister of Forest and Environment Ganpat Vasava also supported the use of GM technology.