Biotech Updates

NAAS Endorses GM Crops for Nutritional Security

March 12, 2014

Indian National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (NAAS) unanimously passed a resolution endorsing application of biotechnology in agriculture during the roundtable meeting on "GM Crops for Nutritional Security" conveyed under the chairmanship of Prof. M.S. Swaminathan and organized by the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences on 12 February 2014. Based on the deliberation on the potential of GM crop technology in solving the entrenched low farm productivity, malnutrition, and hunger problems in a large section of Indian population, the academy reached an agreement that to achieve a zero hunger challenge of the United Nations by 2025, the farm productivity must be doubled which will be possible only through the intelligent and intensive applications of new technologies.

The academy concurred that GM crop technology is a promising, relevant and efficient technology for low-input high-output agriculture for crop improvement where conventional breeding tools have not been effective. GM technology will be a tool to improve agricultural crops for their nutritional value, nutrient and water use efficiency, productivity, tolerance/resistance to biotic and abiotic stresses. The academy called on the government of India to lift de facto moratorium on the field trials of GM crops.

Other key resolutions included strengthening of existing regulatory system till BRAI becomes functional; integrating capacity building as a necessary operational requirement to keep pace with scientific advancement through international collaborations; communication by the scientists with public and policy makers about the safety and benefits of GM crop products; setting up two Committees by the Academy on Public Understanding of Science and Political Understanding of Science. The group also agreed upon several other issues including ICAR taking the lead role in the commercial release of the GM crops; functioning of GEAC as a statutory body that makes final decision on approval. It was also stressed that there is need for a PAN-political support for promoting genetic engineering research in the country to harness its full potential.

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