London: A landmark report by six science academies has revealed that plagiarism plagues India`s genetically modified crops.
Indian scientists now fear that the episode has undermined the country`s international scientific reputation, even as the ministry of environment has rejected the academies` report.
Nandula Raghuram of the Society for Scientific Values, an ethics watchdog based in Delhi, says that what should have been a rigorous assessment by India`s top scientific institutions has ended up as the mouthpiece of Ananda Kumar, a plant scientist who is director of the National Research Centre for Plant Biotechnology and a known proponent of GM crops.
The plagiarism "reflects the larger tragedy of Indian academies", says Raghuram, a molecular biologist at Indraprastha University in Delhi.
Devinder Sharma, chairman of the Delhi-based Forum for Biotechnology and Food Security, a group of scientists that is against GM crops, calls the entire report "a cut and paste exercise".
If the six top national academies have to go by what just one scientist says, "it clearly indicates how hollow and useless the science academies are," says Sharma.
He added: "Where is the scientific rigour that is expected from such `distinguished` bodies?"
A statement signed on Tuesday by Mamannamama Vijayan, the president of the Indian National Science Academy - which coordinated the report - focused solely on the "inappropriateness" of copying text without citations, ignoring any accusations of a lack of scientific rigour.
Vijayan said he is "very agitated that such a thing happened", but added that although the report will be reviewed, "it is very unlikely that the recommendations will change".
Govindarajan Padmanaban, a biochemist and former director of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, agrees. He says that the plagiarism is an "indiscretion rather than any deliberate misrepresentation of facts".
Ramesh said his idea of referring the GM crops to academics was to get a view of the larger scientific community but not the view of one Ananda Kumar.