'Focus on Non-genetic Methods to Improve Agriculture'
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is hosting the third national conference on agri-biotechnology on ‘Biotechnology a Versatile Tool for Agriculture in the Emerging Context’ in the city. The two-day conference began on Tuesday.
The conference discussed ways to leverage biotechnology to improve farm yield and help India achieve the growth rate of four per cent in agriculture, envisaged in the 12th Five Year Plan.
The CII also unveiled a report on ‘Indian Biotech Agriculture Industry: Vision 2025’.
Stressing that transformation of agriculture must guide policy-making, Minister of Agriculture Krishna Byre Gowda said the scientific community should focus on non-genetic methods to solve agriculture problems.
Gowda said India is currently facing one of the formidable economic challenges of a demand-supply gap in food grain production.
“Immediate action is required to avert higher inflation, rising food imports, current accounts deficit and inadequate food security. Low agriculture growth compared to overall economic growth is a matter of significant concern, as about 55 per cent of Indian population is employed in agricultural and allied activities which contribute only 15 per cent to our country’s GDP,” he added.
Principal Scientist and Head of Division of Biotechnology at Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) Dr C Aswath said the IIHR has four to five transgenic varieties of crops that have to be tested.
Aswath suggested that the government identify a single lab that will be in charge of all 28 tests for transgenics, headed by two or three scientists. “Then people will agree that genetical modification of crops is not harmful,” he remarked.
Biotechnology is Safe: Shaw
Chairman of CII National Committee on Biotechnology Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw reiterated that biotechnology is safe and its commercialisation does not pose risks as a product passes through a stringent regulatory process, that takes over five years, to hit the market.
She said farmers should be allowed to choose if they wanted to use BT seeds and this should not be decided by an external body.