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24 Mar 2019, Edition - 1349, Sunday

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Coimbatore

Fears on BT crops exaggerated, said expert

Covai Post Network

Coimbatore : Apprehensions, coupled with exaggerated and groundless fears contributed to creating barriers for Indian farmers to access potential benefit of biotechnology, according to a top scientist from Tuskegee University in the US.Biotechnology is a power medium that can revolutionise Indian agriculture.

Given the population growth and increased urbanisation, GM crops offered one of the promising solution to meet food security needs in the foreseeable future, Dean of College of Arts and Sciences in the varsity Channa S Prakash told reporters here.

BT globally had helped farmers grow 311.8 million tonnes more food in the last 15 years. This offered opportunities to increase crop yields and plants, naturally protected from disease and insects, said Prakash, who was in the Central Advisory Committee for Department of Biotechnology, said. Citing the case of BT cotton in India, he said 90 per cent of cotton was produced from BT and the Government should come out with a proactive policy so that other crops could also be raised.

Dr Shivendra Bajaj, Executive Director,Alliance for Agriculture Innovation said BT brinjal, not not approved by Indian government, had been successful in Bangladesh, where it is being cultivated in large areas.

Though the Prime Minister and Government officials continued to express support for the adoption of new agricultural technologies, decision on GE mustard, intellectual property and seed pricing had been regressive in the pathway for progress of agriculture in the BT sector, Prakash said.

There is the need to streamline the process of obtaining NOC for open field trials from the relevant State Governments and approved environmental safety guidelines with a clearly defined process for public consultation, he said.

“Approval should be science-based and not politics-based,” Prakash added.

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