Viewpoint: Indian scientist M.S. Swaminathan’s unscientific attack on GMO crops won’t help his country grow more food

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[In November], Indian journal Current Science published a thinly-veiled attack against the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture …. [T]he Current Science piece deserves extraordinary attention because one of its authors is M.S. Swaminathan. Swaminathan …. who spearheaded the Green Revolution in the ’60s and ’70s that raised agricultural productivity in the country dramatically, saving millions of lives.

It is, thus, worrisome that a scientist of his stature (and his radiation scientist co-author P.C. Kesavan) has now been taken in by the spurious claims of the anti-GMO movement.

First, Swaminathan and Kesavan say that recombinant DNA technology …. involves the insertion of foreign DNA at random locations in the host organism’s genome …. However ….[w]hen scientists generate new GM crops, only plants that appear to behave and grow the same as non-GMO counterparts are selected …. Even more importantly, random off-target mutations are even more common in conventional breeding techniques ….

Related article:  CRISPR, disease-sensing technologies could yield a 'cornucopia' of healthier, tastier foods

Today, India’s agriculture sector is facing enormous challenges …. The looming impact of climate change further threatens farm productivity, which has failed to keep up with our growing population.

Fortunately, Indian science …. has a vast breadth of agricultural and biotechnological expertise that could be harnessed to tackle these challenges …. However, the current regulatory climate makes their work nearly impossible to perform in India …. and biased academic reviews …. do nothing to help solve the problem.

Read full, original article: MS Swaminathan and his co-authors are not helping Indian farmers at a moment of crisis

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