News / Asia

Genetically Modified Food Crops Suffers Setback in India

Multimedia

Audio

India has put on hold the commercial cultivation of genetically modified food crops.  The decision is seen as a setback by advocates who believe such crops could help boost food supplies in the country.

The eggplant is a popular vegetable in India, but it seldom appears in news headlines.

Now, it is in the spotlight after the government indefinitely deferred plans to let farmers grow a genetically modified version of the vegetable, known as Bt brinjal, earlier this week.       

And other genetically modified food crops could meet a similar fate.

So far, cotton is the only genetically modified crop grown in India, and many call it a success story. Since its cultivation in 2002, cotton yield has nearly doubled, and India has become a leading exporter.

But Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh says the government wants to wait for more scientific data on the safety of genetically modified food crops for human consumption.  

"Bt cotton I can live with, but Bt brinjal I am a little worried about, because it is a food crop…. And there is no tearing hurry to introduce BT brinjal in our country," says Ramesh.

The decision disappointed many who had hoped that genetically modified technology could play a central role in the country's efforts to raise production of staple foods.

BT brinjal, for example, was expected to raise yields by up to 50 percent and cut farming costs by reducing dependence on pesticides.

Economists and agricultural scientists say boosting farm yields is a priority for India. They say a growing population and diminishing farmlands leads to food shortages and rising food prices.

India has been conducting field trials on genetically modified versions of crops such as rice, mustard, cauliflower and peas for nearly a decade.

D.H. Pai Panandiker is an economist and chairman of the Indian subsidiary of the Washington-based International Life Sciences Institute. He says the country's food security will be threatened unless it adopts new technologies to boost yields.   

"There is tremendous scope for introducing biotechnology in normal crops like rice and wheat. One has to go by scientific evidence as already available and adopt it as fast as possible," said Panandiker.

However, detractors insist the technology is a health hazard, and is being pushed ahead by multinational companies such as U-S based Monsanto, a leader in biotech crop biotechnology. An Indian seed company, Mahyco, in which Monsanto has a stake, had helped develop Bt brinjal.

Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist who has led a long battle against genetically modified crops, says she is relieved that cultivation of the BT brinjal has been blocked. She says there is no room for genetically modified food in Indian homes.

"Neither BT brinjal, nor BT eggplant, nor Bt potato nor Bt tomato will go through if there is an honest assessment. It is a crude technology at this stage. We need the science to evolve, we need more sophisticated modification systems," she said.   

Some scientists are concerned the decision on BT Brinjal will slow down further research on genetically modified food crops in the country. They say with controversy swirling around the new technology, the government will continue to adopt a cautious approach.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid