Time For Indian Govt to Give Farmers Access to GM Crops, Says Leading Scientist
New Delhi: Amid rising concerns over the authenticity of Genetically Modified (GM) crops in India, leading biologist Nina Fedoroff has suggested that it was about time that India gives access of the crop to its farmers.
In an interview with News18, Fedoroff said that India had not done enough to identify the potential of the GM crop. “There is currently a moratorium on the release of GM crops and many in the system are awaiting approval,” she said, adding that it was time that Indian government complete testing of the many GM crops in the pipeline and release it to the farmers.
“There is no evidence that the GM crops widely grown today are dangerous when consumed either by people in food or by animals in feed,” she further said.
In India, however, there is a debate on the GM crop. Recently, principal scientific adviser K Vija Raghavan had called out MS Swaminathan for a paper that the latter had written. Swaminathan’s paper ‘Modern Technologies for Sustainable Food and Nutrition Security’, called the BT Cotton a failure. Raghavan, however, has called the paper deeply flawed.
As of 2017, India had the world’s fifth largest cultivated area under the GM crops and the entire crop area has been under one crop—cotton.
GM crops are under consideration. While many crops have been cleared by research experts, including transgenic mustard, their release in the commercial space has been halted by the government due to opposition from many environmental activists. There are, however, various sections of farmers that have protested the central government’s stand on GM crops.
On GM crops being affected by climate change, Fedoroff said that the GM technique for crop improvement would become increasingly important as global warming becomes more and more severe.
“We are rapidly moving out of the climate regime in which our primary crops were domesticated. They do increasingly worse, yielding less as the temperature extremes become common and pest and pathogen populations change. Hence, it will become more important to move genes that can protect crop plants from weather extremes, pests and pathogens from any organism in which they can be found into the crop plants. These will increasingly be organisms that cannot exchange genes with crops through cross-breeding,” she added.