Thursday, September 20, 2007

It's Official: India needs Biotech

Great news from the Land of Promises:

Genetically modified crops are order of the day: Govt
17 Sep, 2007, 1710 hrs IST, PTI

NEW DELHI: India should accept that genetically modified seeds is the solution to feed the growing population and reduce the pressure on land, a top government official said.

"If we like it or not, transgenics are the order of the day," Indian Council of Agricultural Research Director General Mangala Rai said at a conference on agricultural biotechnology organised by industry chamber FICCI.

He pointed that India will have a population of more than five billion by 2050 and the pressure on land would increase by 4-6 times.

Rai said due to adoption of GM crops "resistance has increased, pesticides consumption has reduced and productivity has increased".

He added when other seeds can produce one kilo rice by utilising 3,000 litres of water, why should there be opposition, if GM seed can have a better yield with less water.

Rai also said when oilseeds like castor have improved yield because of use of transgenic seeds, there should not be any resistance against it.

In Gujarat, castor seeds productivity is estimated at 17 quintal per hectare against all India average of four quintal, Rai said.

FICCI Biotech Committee Chairman Krishna M Ella said India would be the hub for world seed production in the next few years. Agri-biotech is growing at 15 per cent per annum, he added.

Another news item from Reuters on the same subject:

This is something that I have been waiting since long time ago. Almost seven years. Not exactly from India, but from any government. And now, it has happened. Despite the claims of environmentalists about risks for health, despite the lies and fake reports by some environmentalists, which I have personally witnessed here and that crippled our emerging bioengineered crops of papaya, despite all that, finally officers in the government have acknowledged the importance of GM crops for our future, with almost exactly the same arguments that a lot of us have been using during the last decade.

I won't engage here in rants about the contradictions of accepting hybrid crops (that mix a lot of unknown genes) like wheat, and refusing to accept crops in which only a couple of genes is different from the parental variety. I only will say that I am happy that finally reason has triumphed, at least in India, I hope more undeveloped countries follow India's example and not only give permission to plant GM crops created by the industry, as Argentina does, but also create their own varieties and crops according to their particular needs. And I hope this is done under an OS approach with a license analogue to Copyleft. Those would be great news not only for the poor people, but also for a lot of scientists around the world, who would benefit from the creativity of other and would be able to contribute themselves to this noble endeavor.

This is a very happy day for me and for a lot of people. And India again is showing us that it takes seriously further development in science and technology. This is a lesson and a warning for developed countries, they have achieved a high living standard thanks science and technology and now can ignore it and scorn it, praise primitivism and older times and give almost null importance to scientific literacy, but India could show that the future is going to be tough for those who chose that path.

Stumble Delicious Technorati Twitter Facebook

No comments: