Biotech Updates

India's Scientific Advisory Council Recommends GM Crops for Food Security

October 17, 2012

The Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) on Biotechnology and Agriculture to the Prime Minister of India recommended a judicious blend of traditional farming and new technologies like genetically modified crops to ensure food and nutrition security. The members of the SAC deliberated on the important issue of application of biotechnology for social and economic advancement of the country particularly in the area of agriculture. They emphasized that the current debate on GM crops is demoralizing and isolating Indian scientists in the sector whose skills have been built with painstaking effort and large investment.

"Some of the opposition to GM crops in the country results from fear of domination by multinational companies. One way to address this concern is to invigorate and further strengthen the relevant scientific capacities of our institutions in public sector, universities and Indian companies," members of the SAC quoted. The members mentioned that land availability and quality, water, low productivity, drought and salinity, biotic stresses, post harvest losses are all serious concerns that will endanger country's food and nutrition security with potentially serious additional affects as a result of climate change.

"Accordingly, strategies for agriculture in future must be based on higher yields, concomitant with reduction in resource inputs. This will require a judicious blend of traditional breeding and new technologies, non-transgenic and transgenic," they said. The council also called for prioritizing the proposed bill for establishment of a national Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI), 2012, which is pending in parliament.

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