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POLICY & REGULATION: Indian agriculture minister Pawar favours open field trials of genetically modified crops



                                  PART 1


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TITLE:   SHARAD PAWAR FAVOURS OPEN FIELD TRIALS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS

SOURCE:  Post Jagran, India

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://post.jagran.com/sharad-pawar-favours-open-field-trials-of-genetically-modified-crops-1363060539

DATE:    12.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Monday said that agriculture scientists should be allowed to conduct field trials of genetically modified crops by adopting strict safety measures. In August, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, headed by Basudeb Acharia, had recommended the Government to stop all open-field trials of transgenic crops until it develops a better system of monitoring and oversight. ?I am of the considered opinion that the distinction for-GM and anti-GM is unnecessary. We should not analyze the scientific issues on non-scientific parameters.?"

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SHARAD PAWAR FAVOURS OPEN FIELD TRIALS OF GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS

New Delhi: Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Monday said that agriculture scientists should be allowed to conduct field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops by adopting strict safety measures.

In August, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, headed by Basudeb Acharia, had recommended the Government to stop all open-field trials of transgenic crops until it develops a better system of monitoring and oversight.

?I am of the considered opinion that the distinction for-GM and anti-GM is unnecessary. We should not analyze the scientific issues on non-scientific parameters.

?Let the science tell us what is good and what is not. And for that we must allow our scientists to conduct the trials by observing strictest possible safety measures,? Pawar said at a conference.

Stating that biotechnological tools possess enough potential to transform agriculture and agro-based industry, he said the country need to ally fear of relevance and safety of such technology.

?With the sound regulatory and testing systems, India needs to take giant steps to alley the fear of few on relevance and safety of such technologies,? Pawar said.

The minister hoped that scientists will get full freedom for their research to ensure higher and sustainable crop productivity, better environment and remunerative agriculture.

?It is projected that by 2030 India will require a minimum of 304 million tonnes of foodgrains, 175 million tonnes of vegetables, 96 million tonnes of fruits, 170 million tonnes of milk and 21 million tonnes of meat, eggs and fish.

?The proposed food security Act would increase the demand of foodgrains significantly. We need to gear up to expand the supply side. We have to enshrine the country?s food security on domestic production and not on imports,? he observed.

Pawar said the future growth in agriculture has to come from acceleration in the rate of technological change and sustainable intensification of production systems.

?Modern science such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, remote sensing offer opportunities to enhance genetic potential of crops, improve input-use efficiency, reduce production and transaction costs and improve sustainable use of natural resources,? he added.



                                  PART 2

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TITLE:   GM CROP LOBBIES IRKED BY MINISTRY?S ?INACTION?

SOURCE:  The Hindu Business Line, India

AUTHOR:  Vishwanath Kulkarni

URL:     http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/agri-biz/gm-crop-lobbies-irked-by-ministrys-inaction/article4472260.ece

DATE:    03.03.2013

SUMMARY: "the pro-GM lobby, led by multinational and domestic seed-makers, wants the Ministry to reconstitute the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) so that the trial process can move on. Technically, there is no regulator for GM products now; the GEAC met last in April 2012. ?We want the GEAC to be reconstituted and a meeting held soon as the sowing window for kharif plantings is approaching fast,? said Ram Kaundinya, Chairman of the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (Agriculture Group) and CEO of UPL Advanta Seeds."

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GM CROP LOBBIES IRKED BY MINISTRY?S ?INACTION?

They have opposite views on genetically modified (GM) crops but are united on one issue - the inaction/silence of the Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) on various issues.

For instance, the pro-GM lobby, led by multinational and domestic seed-makers, wants the Ministry to reconstitute the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) so that the trial process can move on.

Technically, there is no regulator for GM products now; the GEAC met last in April 2012.

?We want the GEAC to be reconstituted and a meeting held soon as the sowing window for kharif plantings is approaching fast,? said Ram Kaundinya, Chairman of the Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises (Agriculture Group) and CEO of UPL Advanta Seeds.

Some 50 applications relating to new crop biotech products are pending assessment and approval by the regulator.

Upper hand to Farm Ministry

On the other side, the greens want Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan to take a proactive stance. Although Natarajan is privately seen to be hawkish on commercialisation of GM crops, her not taking an open stance has allowed the Agriculture Ministry to steal the thunder by linking GM crops with food security.

Thus, by default, the Agriculture Ministry?s position has now become the official view of the Government in the debate on GM crops.

The recent ?rhetoric? of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on allowing GM crop field trials has rattled the anti-GM lobby, which believes that his argument on linking food security to genetically modified technology will mislead the debate.

Making a case for GM technology to boost farm output, Pawar recently said that scientists should not be denied the right to conduct the field trials of such crops.

?Civil society wants the Environment Minister to respond publicly so that the Agriculture Minister does not mislead the debate on GM and food security in the country,? said Neha Saigal, Campaigner, Sustainable Agriculture, Greenpeace.

Food rights organisations, under the Right to Food Campaign (RFC), recently wrote to Pawar, urging him to tackle food security in more fundamental ways than linking it with genetically modified crops.

The RFC urged the Agriculture Ministry not to come in the way of much-needed changes in the transgenics scene in India, reminding it of the recommendations of the Technical Expert Committee (TEC) appointed by the Supreme Court.

Expert panel

In its interim report last October, the TEC had called for a 10-year moratorium on field trials of GM crops. The Committee is expected to submit its final recommendations to the Supreme Court later this month.



                                  PART 3

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TITLE:   GREENPEACE CHALLENGES PAWAR ON GM CROPS

SOURCE:  New Kerala, India

AUTHOR:  

URL:     http://www.newkerala.com/news/newsplus/worldnews-138406.html

DATE:    20.02.2013

SUMMARY: "Rejecting Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar?s stance on GM crops being the answer to India?s food security question, 12 Greenpeace activists unfurled a massive banner with the message ?Say NO to GM, Yes to Food Security? at the Food Corporation of India?s godown in Delhi?s Mayapuri area on Wednesday. As the parliament prepares to kick off the budget session Thursday, Greenpeace says their ?act reiterates that the solution lies in adopting a holistic view of food security with focus on better food distribution systems rather than promoting false solutions like genetically modified crops (GM).?"

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GREENPEACE CHALLENGES PAWAR ON GM CROPS

New Delhi, Feb 20: Rejecting Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar?s stance on GM (Genetically Modified) crops being the answer to India?s food security question, 12 Greenpeace activists unfurled a massive banner with the message ?Say NO to GM, Yes to Food Security? at the Food Corporation of India?s godown in Delhi?s Mayapuri area on Wednesday.

As the parliament prepares to kick off the budget session Thursday, Greenpeace says their ?act reiterates that the solution lies in adopting a holistic view of food security with focus on better food distribution systems rather than promoting false solutions like genetically modified crops (GM).?

The police immediately came at the venue and detained the activists, they were later taken to Mayapuri police station.

Commenting on the detention, social activist Aruna Roy said, ?The Greenpeace activists peacefully protesting against the position taken by Union Agri Minister, Sharad Pawar have been illegally detained. This detention is one more in a series of actions taken by the State to suppress dissent.?

?They were in fact protesting against the Minister?s attempt to trivialise the issue of food security by asserting that the controversial GM technology would, infact, offer security of food production. The Minister?s support for GM food crops is highly controversial and there is an ongoing international debate on this issue. We condemn the detention and demand immediate release of peaceful protestors.?

In the Monsoon Session of 2012, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture tabled their report on GM crops.

Greenpeace says one of the clear recommendations of the report was for the government to come up with a fresh road map to food security that does not adopt risky technologies like GM but addresses the shortcomings of storage, distribution and mismanagement of stocks. GM food crops are a panacea for food security is an argument made to serve the interests of the biotech sector.

Echoing the voice of the Parliamentary Committee, more than 150 scientists from across the country have written to Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, expressing their displeasure at the Govt of India for promoting GM crops as a way forward for food security.

Neha Saigal, campaigner, Greenpeace India said, ?so far there has been no single GM crop developed for increasing yields and it has failed to show any such increase in yield in nearly 2 decades of its existence.

?Instead of forcing risky GM food down our throats, Mr Pawar needs to address the fact that millions of tonnes of grains in storage facilities across India, consistently fail to reach the people. And, as the environment minister, Smt Natarajan should take an unequivocal stand on GM crops?, Saigal added.

?The UPA Government must not be distracted by GM crops as a solution to food security, but focus on an inclusive and comprehensive food security bill, as a crucial option to end hunger and malnutrition,? said Kavita Srivastava, convenor, Right to Food campaign.

Greenpeace urged Jayanthi Natarajan, the decision maker on the environmental release of GMOs to intervene so that the MoA does not mislead the debate of food security.