India: The poor need GM crops

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The minister for environment and forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, recently put on hold the field trials of a few genetically modified (GM) crops. The field trials for these crops were approved by the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), the apex technical body that works under her ministry. In 2010, her predecessor, Jairam Ramesh, imposed a moratorium on the commercial release of Bt brinjal after it had passed through the due regulatory processes.

At one level, both these decisions indicate the big mess the regulatory system for GM crops is in today. At a deeper level, the two decisions demonstrate a deep-seated ideological resistance to the use of GM technology, a resistance that is at odds with the central government’s stated policy of using this technology for the benefit of the rural poor.

Read the full, original story here: “The poor need GM crops” 

  • Mondira Bhattacharya, NCAER

    The article is good and quite relevant. However I doubt that Bt cotton ‘varieties’ occupy most Cotton area in the country. I think they are Bt cotton ‘hybrids’ and not ‘varieties’ and both need to be distinguised properly from each other. There are more than a thousand Bt hybrids cultivated in the country, all containing the Bt gene patented by Monsanto Inc. As regards Bt varieties I doubt whether any Bt cotton varieties are cultivated in the country. In 2009 the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), in collaboration with the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, had developed a Bt cotton variety (Bikaneri Narma) and an indegenous Bt cotton hybrid (NHH-44Bt). The Bt variety developed was the only variety of Bt cotton in India. However the variety was not very popular. Even the indegenous Bt hybrid did not receive much popularity. I think the need of the hour is to promote indegenous Bt cotton hybrids and varieties.