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GM crop not yet a foolproof technology,admits crop biotechnology body

The All India Crop Biotechnology Association,an industry association of the major companies engaged in agricultural bio-technology in the country...

Written by Express News Service | Allababad |
March 31, 2009 12:36:39 am

The All India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA),an industry association of the major companies engaged in agricultural bio-technology in the country,has admitted that the genetically modified (GM) crop is not a foolproof technology as yet. It is still at an evolving stage,according to the association.

R K Sinha,Executive Director,AICBA,who was in Ahmedabad on Wednesday,said,”The mealybug infestation on Bt Cotton in Gujarat clearly proves the same.” Taking a cue,the government has decided not to commercially introduce any GM vegetable (read Bt brinjal) unless the trials establish the crop’s viability beyond doubt,he added.

Sinha,who is also executive director of the National Seed Association of India,further elaborated on the bio-tech priorities corresponding to the Indian scenario. GM crops — are insect,pest,disease and stress resistance (can withstand drought,salinity and high temperatures),improve nutritional quality by bio-fortification; possess extended shelf life and can be used as bio-fuels — are the need of the hour,the official added.

Representing the scientific community,Prof Swapan Dutta of University of Kolkatta,a former research scientist at the International Rice Research Institute,said that nearly 12 million farmers in 23 countries have adopted GM crops and their income has risen by 80 per cent.

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“This has happened due to reduction in pesticide usage by 50 per cent and increase in productivity by more then two times,” he added.

Officials further informed that in Indian institutions such as the Indian Council of Agricultural Research,various state agricultural universities and the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) are conducting field trails in rice,okra,cabbage,cauliflower,chickpea,groundnut,papaya,potato,tomato and brinjal.

“The Government of India has also established a regulatory mechanism comprising three ministries; Science and Technology,Environment and Forests,and Agriculture,along with a Genetic Engineering Approval Committee to ensure the safe introduction of GM crops,” Sinha said.

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