India's agri-experts deliberate on GM crisis at UoH
Aug. 27, 2019
The event was attended by Dr Dayanand, Dean of the School of Lifesciences, University of Hyderabad (UoH); Dr S R Rao, Regulatory Expert of Biotechnology; Dr Rakesh K Mishra, Director, Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Ram Kaundinya, Director General, Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII).
Other participants included Vijay Niwal, farmer representative from Shetkari Sanghatana, other farmer organisations, scientists, industry, government officials and other stakeholders.
It also emphasised that Government should continuously promote plant biotech research and build capacity for adopting emerging technologies like genome editing, advances in regulatory sciences for safety evaluations and research on environmental, socio-economic and trade impact of illegal planting in India.
During the discussion, farmers have expressed their intent and willingness to accept technologies that offer promising and cost-effective solutions to their crop losses. They are of the view that the government needs to consult them proactively rather than making decisions based on inputs from selected groups of civil society.
Farmers organisations also expressed that government should fast-track food and environmental safety assessments so as to give timely access to the new technologies for the benefit of farmers income and increasing productivity.
Rather than delaying decisions and punitive actions, the government should evaluate food and environmental safety, sustainability and impact on farmers and organized public and private seed sector in the larger interest of the country."
India being one of the largest cotton producer countries has still not reached high yield levels when compared globally, in spite of the huge yield gains made in the last 15 years. Long duration hybrids, low harvest index, inadequate use of biotech traits and low ginning out-turn are some of the factors responsible for low productivity in India. With conservative growth forecast for textile industry by 2027-28, there is a requirement of 569 lakh bales.
However, looking at current production trends, likely production is estimated at 476 lakh bales. With this trend, it will increase dependence on imports to meet domestic requirement, impact on cotton export will be at the tune of $8bn. This can adversely impact $330Bn opportunity in global markets for the Indian textile industry by 2028.
Therefore, the meeting recommended that in case HT-Bt cotton, as a follow up of Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC) report of May 2018 submitted to PMO, MOEF&CC may convene immediately all the concerned stakeholders including concerned departments of Ministry Of Agriculture And Farmer Welfare, Government of India and State Governments, applicant of technology, and seed associations and civil society for arriving at an appropriate solution.
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