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INDIA Experts bat for new tech
for agriculture 18-January-2012 Deccan Chronicle View
Indian agriculture needs the
latest biotechnology to improve yields and meet the demands
of the growing population. However, farm experts blame the
Central government for having double standards when it comes
to “mutagenic” and “transgenic” food crops. The Central government
has been promoting over two dozen food crops developed by
the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre through “mutation breeding”
using radiation to alter the genetic make-up of plants. While
harmful radioisotopes like cobalt-60 is used to trigger genetic
changes in plants to develop traits like high yield or resistance
to pests, a gene from a bacterium is used in the “transgenic”
process in crops to achieve the same qualities.
“Mutagenic brinjal, whose genetic make-up has been changed
using cobalt-60, has been in use in Indian markets for about
three decades without any protests from any quarters,” said
Dr David Spielman, from the International Food Policy Research
Institute, Washington, USA.
Dr David is one of the many experts currently in the city
to participate in a two-day seminar on biotechnology in
Indian agriculture. The seminar is being organised by the
Centre for Economic and Social Studies from January 18.
Prof. Ronald J. Herring of the Cornell University, New York,
said, “The experts at the seminar will look at strong evidence
on the impact of biotechnology on farming, crop production,
and income of farmers and the welfare of their families.
We will not simply debate whether the technology is good
or bad, but will come out with strong evidence to support
Though a decade ago the Centre allowed Bt cotton, it withheld
permission to release Bt brinjal for commercial consumption.
This has attracted criticism.
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