Ramesh moots govt study on GM crops as sustainable option
New Delhi: Noting that Bt Cotton has contributed a "structural transformation" in the farming sector, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Tuesday suggested a government study to ascertain that genetically modified crops are a sustainable option.
Ramesh, however, stressed that his decision during his stint as Environment Minister to put a moratorium on Bt Brinjal was "right" and "history will vindicate" it.
"The fact is that over 95 per cent of the farmers in states after state have adopted Bt Cotton....Why our farmers are doing this? Obviously, they are doing it because returns have increased," Ramesh said rejecting "the conspiritorial view" that farmers were cultivating Bt Brinjal as non-Bt seed had been elbowed out of market.
"Pesticide use has reduced substantially (in Bt Cotton cultivation). If net returns have not increased, I am afraid, people are not
going to adopt the technology on a very large scale," the Minister told a National Conference on 10 years of Bt Cotton in India.
"...I would not say that Bt cotton is a failure. I would certainly say that Bt Cotton has contributed a structural transformation, but there are large number of scientific questions that remain unanswered. It has to be analysed... If Bt cotton has to be a sustainable option," he said and suggested a study on it.
Maintaining that Bt brinjal story is "a completely different" one, he said "irrespective of what happened on the Bt Cotton area, my decision on Bt brinjal has been stand alone."
The Minister said when the decision on Bt Brinjal was taken as there was scenario of a private company trying to dominate the seed chain and it was a "valid concern" at that point of time.
"Nothing has happened in the last two-and-a half years ... My decision on Bt Brinjal was right. I think history will vindicate my decision," he said.
Ramesh had earlier said that his position on Bt Brinjal was determined by the positions of state governments and the lack of consensus among the scientific community among other things.
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