AGRICULTURE & SCIENCE: India: crops do not become harmful after being genetically modified
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TITLE: INDIA: CROPS DO NOT BECOME HARMFUL AFTER BEING GENETICALLY MODIFIED
SOURCE: Times Of India
SUMMARY: "While several states, including Odisha, are opposing the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, Dr S R Dhua, adviser, genetic conservation to the state government, says there is no scientific basis of any apprehension to the opposition. "
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INDIA: CROPS DO NOT BECOME HARMFUL AFTER BEING GENETICALLY MODIFIED
While several states, including Odisha, are opposing the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI) Bill, Dr S R Dhua, adviser, genetic conservation to the state government, says there is no scientific basis of any apprehension to the opposition. Excerpts of an interview with Ashok Pradhan:
Q: What are your reservations about BRAI Bill?
A: I don't find any reason to be worried about the proposed regulation. Those opposed to BRAI are against genetic modified (GM) crops. I think GM crops are the only way to address food shortage by maximizing production. We can't stop GM crops any way, as our neighbour Bangladesh has already allowed such a regime.
Q: What about the impact of GM crops on health and environment?
A: A crop cannot be harmful just because it is genetically modified. These undergo enough tests before being introduced to the public. Each GM crop should undergo scrutiny. However, opposing GM crops and BRAI in totality will mean denying the scope of increasing yield. The country, and the world at large, badly needs to improve production to feed its growing population and ensure food security.
Q: Can't there be ways to increase production other than manipulating genes?
A: Some people perceive gene modification as meddling with mother nature. We should be thankful to biotechnology that it has made possible to change genes to make the crops more disease-resistant and yield more. It is far better than using excessive pesticides and chemical fertilizers, which are more harmful than GM foods.
Q: Why is Odisha opposed to the BRAI Bill then?
A: The opposition by Odisha and some other states are mainly related to the question of states' rights over taking decision on GM crops in their territory. The Bill gives sweeping powers to the BRAI to take a call on GM crops. Personally, I feel it is high time to allow GM crops in the country. The country should take an early decision.
Q: What is Odisha doing to protect farmers' interest in case GM crops and high yielding varieties (HYV) replace traditional seeds?
A: Odisha has started a gene bank, which has become fully functional since July this year. Around 900 indigenous varieties of paddy and 100 other seeds have been preserved. Applications have been filed under the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers Rights Authority, so that if any new variety is developed from these native sources, farmers get share of the benefits. As many as 23 farmers have got the certificates of rights. Unfortunately, so far scientists, who developed HYV using farmers' native seeds, got all the benefits leaving none for the farmers.