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Experts and scientists stress on need for biotechnology for farm prosperity

Hyderabad|India|May'2012: More and more countries in Europe were taking to genetically modified crops and India should also embrace it looking at the advantage of bio technology to increase productivity and step up nutritional standards, B. Sesikeran, Director of the National Institute of Nutrition said.

“Why are certain sections of society resisting bio technology. Even in Europe, where the anti-GM debate originated, more and more countries like Spain, France and Italy have taken to GM technology,” Sesikeran told a panel discussion on agriculture and technology organized by IndoAsiancommodities.com in city on Wednesday.

He said certain European countries could afford to resist and debate it but an agriculture-based country like India cannot do it as w ith this technology, if millions of lives could be saved, even with a small bit of risk it should be adopted.

Referring to safety aspects of GM technology, Sesikeran, who has done exztensive research on nutritional pathology, said there was no adverse evidence or ill effects of GM foods in the countries where they are being consumed.

“North America and South America adopted this technology in the 1990s and if any proof is needed then here is a history of safe human usage.” he said.

Sesikeran said the shelf life of several food products, vegetables, fruits and perishables can be increased with the use of genetically modified technology.

Asserting that doubts raised in certain quarters over the use of GM technology do not have any scientific base, Sesikeran said the country should accept it to improve productivity, for farm prosperity and feed the growing population.

He said trials were continuing on several GM vegetables but the process of introducing this technology had slowed down due to protests and misconceptions.

He said in the rain-dependant country , where even two successive failure of the monsoon can create havoc with availability of grains, pulses,oilseeds and other essential commodities, technology was of paramount importance.

Sesikeran said while the green revolution of the 1960s took care to look at the country’s food security needs, it did not give enough attention to health and nutrition.

“We now need new technology in agriculture to bring micronutrient foods by using fortified cereals that can address the problem of malnutrition,” he said.

He said technology was needed to step up production of pulses, which is a rich source of protein.

Participating in the discussion, Dr Dwarkesh Parihar, Chief Scientist with Shriram Bioseed Genetics, said there was no doubt about this technology in the minds of scientists though unsubstantiated reports still try to malign it.

He said emotional issues were being used to keep the benficial technology away from farmers and consumers.

Listing the benefits like far higher yields, better food security and reduced use of dangerous chemicals, Parihar said there was need to understand the science behind the technology and appreciate its long term benefits.

Raghava Rao, Managing Director, Kohinoor Hatcheries Ltd, said technology was essential for the well being of the farmer and required to increase the per hectare productivity.

He said technology should be employed to disseminate the right information at the right time to the farmer. It should be used to assess why there were wild fluctuations in price of commodities, like in the recent case of soybean or earlier cotton.

“Ultimately it is the farmer who is in distress because of the frequent changes in price spiral,” he said.

The discussion on Agriculture and Technology, the fourth in the series, was organized by IndoAsiancommodities.com, a website wholly devoted to agriculture, metals and technology. The earlier workshops were held in Jaipur, Bhopal and Ahmedabad.

-May 2012

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