Indian geneticist: ‘Policy paralysis’ on biotech crops threatens country’s food production

Deepak Pental
Deepak Pental, inventor of genetically modified mustard Image: Smart Indian Agriculture

An Indian farmer has been found illegally growing a genetically modified (GM) aubergine. The event immediately sparked anti-GM protests and anti-GM lobby groups have filed a public interest litigation in the supreme court demanding a complete moratorium on the growing of GM crops. The discovery highlights India’s ongoing, uneasy relationship with genetically modified organisms.

India has put the release of another crop on hold – a high yield GM mustard. In May 2017, GEAC approved the GM mustard hybrid developed by a team led by Deepak Pental, a former genetics professor at the University of Delhi. However, public pressure forced the government to defer the release and seek more data on seed production efficiency and any impact on honeybees.

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‘The current state of GM crops in India is afflicted with policy paralysis,’ Pental says. ‘Crop productivity in India is stagnating due to pests and pathogens, and also abiotic stresses. These will only increase with climate change. Farmers require robust crops and GM technologies can help.’

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Read full, original article: Illegally grown GM aubergines highlight India’s continuing ambivalence to transgenic crops

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