"Farmer" Pawar bats for genetically modified crops
Backing use of genetically modified (GM) technology in crops, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said farmers prefer GM cotton as it gives higher yield and is more disease-resistant and opposed "arbitrary bans" on trials of such crops.
Mumbai: Backing use of genetically modified (GM) technology in crops, Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar today said farmers prefer GM cotton as it gives higher yield and is more disease-resistant and opposed "arbitrary bans" on trials of such crops.
"I am not a scientist. But as a farmer, I would like my friends opposing the GM technology to answer some of my queries. For instance, is it not a fact that GM technology substantially curtails the requirement of fertilisers and pesticides? This helps farmers maintain the soil quality and also save money," Pawar said.
"Second, is it not a fact that we might be consuming oil made out of GM soya produced in the US? But, we aren`t willing to benefit from the same technology on our own soil. Why?" Pawar said.
The NCP leader expressed the views in a blog titled "Food for Thought", posted on his party`s official website today.
"Is it not a fact that GM technology has increased the food production four-fold, reducing the need of additional land, thereby protecting the green cover," he said.
"My only contention is that let us not kill this promising science by placing arbitrary bans on its trials. Let the scientific community get the freedom to conduct its experiments on this technology with the strictest possible regulatory framework in place. Is this asking for too much?" he said.
Stating that "GM technology is now a reality," Pawar said, "From mere 1.7 million hectares in 1996, the world-over area under GM crop has seen an unprecedented 100-fold increase to 170 million hectares by 2012, spread across 28 countries and touching the lives of 17 million farmers."
"We have adopted the GM technology for only one crop - cotton. And it has all along been a success story. In 2000-01, the production of cotton was just 9.5 million bales as against the demand of 17 million bales. This went up to 18.5 million bales as against demand of 22 million bales in 2005-06," Pawar said.
"Today, we produce 35 million bales as against the demand of 27 million bales. Thus, we have emerged as a major exporter in the international market," the minister said.
"I believe that a farmer is the best judge to decide on the adoption of a new concept or ideology. Let me tell you that 90 per cent of the India`s cotton farmers have already adopted the GM technology," he said.