There is unjustified opposition to GM crops in India: Kush

There is unjustified opposition for growing of genetically modified crops in India in spite of their benefits, world food laureate Gurdev S Kush said.

GM crops are one of the fastest adopted crop technology in the history of agriculture but India is lagging behind. Scientists and farming community are disappointed with lack of progress in utilising this technology, he said.

"The GM technology can be employed to raise crops yields as well as for improving nutrient content of grains. In-spite of these obvious benefits, there is unjustified opposition to the growing of GM crops," Kush said addressing the 52nd convocation of the post graduate school organised by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) here.

Noting that GM crops are consumed worldwide and no adverse effects on human health have been found, he said but several environmental and activists groups are "spreading fear and misinformation about GM crops. Their anti-GM has spread the fear of unknown among the public."

Kush, under whose leadership more than 300 rice varieties have been developed and released for cultivation in Asia and other continents, said that Indian agri-scientists and farming community are disappointed at the lack of progress in utilising this the GM technology.

Presently, government has allowed commercial cultivation of only Bt cotton, while there is moratorium on Bt brinjal amid safety concerns.

National and international scientific academics and other global bodies such as Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) declaring GM foods are safe for human consumption and for environment, he added.

Kush advocated use of GM technology to address the challenges of food and nutritional security as India's population is increasing at the rate of 1.5 per cent per year.

"With increase in income, they require high value foods such as meat, milk and eggs. These food items are produced by using grains as livestock feed. Based on these considerations, the country will have to produce 350 million tonnes by 2035 from existing lands," he said.

The challenge for next generation is to use existing technologies and latest scientific breakthroughs to produce additional foodgrains, he added.

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