Bangalore: The government should remove all constraints in the research and development work of biotech crops and lift moratorium on commercial release of Bt-brinjal, agri-biotech scientists and industry bodies said today.
In a day-long conference on Biotech Crops for Food Security in India, the scientists from the US, Switzerland and India noted that biotech crops would play a major role in
ensuring food security of India.
The conference also adopted `The Bangalore Declaration` urging the government to "take urgent measures to remove unjustified and arbitrary constraints that jeopardise the
functioning and development of the Indian agribiotech R&D".
Through the declaration, scientists demanded the government accept the recommendation of GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee) on commercial release of Bt Brinjal and lift the moratorium.
The meet was organised by Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education (FBAE) and supported by Association of Biotech Led Enterprises - Agriculture Group (ABLE-AG).
"It is imperative that constraints such as requirement of the permission of state governments even for field testing of biotech crops approved by the regulator, and the threat of legal action against the use of indigenous germplasm to develop biotech crops for indigenous use are removed expeditiously," FBAE Secretary C Kameswara Rao said.
The scientist and biotech companies also hailed the recent statement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the potential of genetic engineering in raising farm production and urged him to ward off protest from anti-GM crops group, which they said was mainly based on "unscientific grounds".
Many globally renowned biotechnologists and scientists lamented that the issue has been stuck in India due to "stumbling blocks" put in by some NGOs.
Participating in the conference, Autar Matto of USDA, Washington, allayed apprehensions over the safety of GM crops from health point of view and said the agri- biotechnology has been supported even by UN agricultural body, FAO.
Klaus Ammann, Professor of Biodiversity and former Director of the Botanical Garden, University of Bern, Switzerland, said, "A large number of scientific papers
demonstrate the environmental safety of GM crops; they are as safe as conventional crops."
Highlighting the need for the poor to be fed adequately, Gurudev S Khush, World Food Prize Laureate, in his key note address said, "There will be 9 billion people on this planet in 2050.
He said 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", he said.