Why have GMO foods failed to gain approval in India?

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In a research laboratory surrounded by acres of arid land in western India, Bharat Char showed off tiny sprouts of rice, wheat and okra in glass bottles.

. . . Because they are genetically modified to resist bugs and weed-killing sprays, said the scientist for Mahyco, an Indian firm that joined Monsanto Co. to develop biotech crops, the plants could boost impoverished Indian farmers’ profits and reduce food imports.

. . . .

But after a decade . . . seeds for plants like Mr. Char’s remain in limbo, stymied by environmentalist opposition, farmer skepticism and bureaucratic inertia. Despite dozens of biotech-food-crop trials in India, the country has approved none for commercial cultivation.

. . . .

In 2005, [nutritionist Aruna Rodrigues] filed a petition with India’s Supreme Court seeking a moratorium on GMO field trials, arguing that such crops would damage the nutritional qualities of the food. The court accepted her petition, which is still winding its way through India’s notoriously slow judicial system.

. . . .

India’s food-security concerns may lead it to soften its stance, seed industry officials say. The country is a big importer of edible oil and lentils—protein sources for many mired in poverty—and has high child-malnutrition rates. GMO proponents say biotech seeds would increase production of protein-rich crops on India’s mostly small farms . . .

. . . .

India’s Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on the petition to bar GMO-crop cultivation. But Monsanto faces more immediate challenges in cotton, after India’s agriculture ministry this month imposed a 70% cut in the royalty fees that Monsanto and Mahyco had charged for their crop genes. . . .

The price controls on crop biotechnology. . .may force the companies to reassess all aspects of their joint venture in India, they say. . . .

Read full, original post: Why Monsanto’s Biotech-Food Business Isn’t Growing in India

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