News Column

GM crop industry pins hopes on Modi govt

June 27, 2014

Dave, Jitendra

The new government has more than a million expectations to fulfill. And, the Association of Bio-tech Led Enterprises - Agriculture Group (ABLE-AG), an association of 14 companies engaged in research and production of genetically modified crop seeds, is yet another organisation to pin its hopes on the new government led by Narendra Modi at the Centre. For, the industry body expects a positive response and to grow threefold in ten years.

The industry feels that policy paralysis in the last three years has hit the bio-tech agriculture companies hard. Around 60 applications for permission to 11 genetically modified crops have been pending with the central government, said Ram Kaundinya, chairman of ABLE-AG, an industry association on agriculture biotechnology.

The companies have sought permission for research and production of genetically modified paddy, maize, mustard, pulses, castor and some vegetables.

Now, it has pinned hopes on the new government. "The Prime Minister's speeches have made it clear that agriculture is his priority. He has witnessed the farmers benefiting because of BT cotton in Gujarat. So, we believe his government will have a positive stand in granting permission," said Kaundinya.

Currently, only genetically modified cotton, known as BT cotton, is used in India. The market size of the GM crop is around Rs3,200 crore. "With the government's support, the GM crop market could grow three times in size in 10 years," he said. In terms of cotton sowing, since about 97 per cent of the area has been covered with BT cotton, the market is saturated.

The ABLE-AG chairman also believes that permission for GM seeds for paddy, oil seeds, pulses and vegetables will help in controlling food inflation as well. GM seeds are drought and salinity resistant and so even with poor monsoon conditions, they can provide better yields compared to traditional seeds. Moreover, GM crops will help in bringing down fertiliser subsidy which is around Rs70,000 crore to Rs80,000 crore, he said.

Talking about the issue of child labour, Kaundinya said though the use of child labour has been reduced significantly because of combined efforts of the government, NGOs and companies, it is yet to be weeded out totally. "The number of child labourers has come down to less than 10,000 from around 80,000 ten years ago," added Kaundinya. He even negated the impact of GM foods on human health as well as on soil fertility.

Credit:Jitendra Dave

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Source: DNA : Daily News & Analysis (India)

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