BANGALORE: Scientists from across the world gathered at a conference on ‘Biotech Crops for Food Security India’ on Monday urged the Union government to accept the Genetic Engineering Approvals Committee (GEAC) recommendation for the commercial release of BT Brinjal and lift the moratorium. The scientists completely refuted the minister’s claims and accused him of taking “biased” decisions.
“There is no evidence of environmental risk from BT crops when compared to other conventional methods. I have serious doubts whether this bill will be passed. Scientists cannot get to the street level to demonstrate their findings. This is a great weakness to the scientific lobby,” said Sivaramiah Shantharam, Visiting Professor, Bio-safety Institute for GM Agricultural Products, IOWA.
Shantaram questioned why the minister is making comments when the Agricultural Ministry and the Ministry of Biotechnology are yet to act on it. “There is a vested interest in the minister’s claim and he is not commenting on what is wrong with BT, rather he just lambasts that there is no consensus among scientific community.”
Speaking on how to address the food need and increase the food production accordingly, Prof Gurudev S Khush from University of California, USA, in his keynote address said, “There will be 9 billion people on this planet in 2050. To feed that many people will require doubling of food production. To meet this challenge we must increase the yield potential of our food crops and close the yield gap.”