September 24, 2013 6:05:18 pm
Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Tuesday said the country should adopt genetically modified (GM) crops in order to meet extra requirement of foodgrains under the landmark food security law.
“We have to accelerate the pace of agricultural growth on sustainable basis to meet the additional requirement of foodgrain for proper implementation of the Food Security Act,” Pawar said addressing a national rabi conference.
Stating that the government is “very conservative” on GM crops,he however advocated: “Wherever feasible and considered advisable by our scientists,based on field trials and otherwise,we should not hesitate in introducing GM crops to reap the benefits of scientific research in this area.”
The current production levels are more or less sufficient to meet the current requirements. However,the real challenge is to sustain this growth despite occurrence of drought and floods,he added.
The government has allowed commercial cultivation of Bt cotton,while moratorium has been put on Bt brinjal.
Permission has been given to private companies to conduct field trials of GM crops such as cotton,corn and maize in Punjab,Haryana,Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat.
However,a technical committee appointed by the Supreme Court had recently recommended an indefinite moratorium on open field trials of GM crops till the deficiencies in the regulatory and safety systems are effectively addressed.
Asked about the Supreme Court panel’s recommendations,Pawar said: “The matter is before the court. We are waiting for the decision. We are trying to keep facts before the Court explaining importance of GM crops.”
The country has “no choice” but to follow scientific technologies to sustain foodgrain production in limited agricultural land and water resources,he told reporters on the sideline of a conference on rabi crops here.
The ambitious food law — considered as ‘game-changer’ by the Congress-ruled UPA government and described by the Opposition parties as ‘political gimmick’ ahead of 2014 general elections — aims to provide a legal right over cheaper foodgrains to about 82 crore people.
Foodgrain production stood at 255.36 million tonnes in 2012-13 crop year (July-June).
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