Noting that there is no need for haste in approving Bt brinjal,agricultural scientist Dr M S Swaminathan said: We need to move slowly and develop the confidence of public who are skeptical about the crop. We need to build public confidence,wait for a year or two,conduct bio-safety tests and then release the crop.
Swaminathan,presently at the Punjab Agricultural University,outlined a path for introduction of bio-transgenic crops in India and said,Firstly,we need a regulatory body like the Election Commission which enjoys the faith of the public. In 2004,I had recommended to the Centre that we earmark Rs 1,000 crore for such a body that enjoys credibility of public,media and politicians,and has its own testing mechanism so that it does not have to rely on outside agencies like the National Biotechnology Committee.
In case of Bt brinjal,the home of this crop is India and we need to ensure that its introduction does not harm the traditional brinjal varieties. Just as we preserve heritage monuments we need to preserve all the traditional varieties of this crop for possible use in future, he said,adding that we also need to study its toxicity before announcing its release.
Swaminathan,the architect of Green Revolution,also urged farmers to switch over towards evergreen revolution. Green Revolution is the phenomenon of 1968 as we needed food grains then. But forty years on,we need to move to evergreen sustainable agriculture which while taking care of feeding population also protects environment,biodiversity and eco-systems.
On the issue of price rise of essential commodities,Swaminathan said,A drought year and then a mismatch in supply and demand of pulses caused the price rise. I am grateful to the farmers of Punjab who despite a drought year gave India rice. They could do so because they have tube wells though they had to pay a hefty price for saving the crop.
In the 60th year of our republic,we should develop 60,000 villages as pulse and oil seed villages across the country so that we grow our own pulses, he added.