|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point: Debates: South Asian|
Thursday, 4 January, 2001, 13:38 GMT
Genetic engineering: The future for crops in India?
The Indian Science Congress will begin in Delhi on 3 January 2001, and will focus on the threats to Indian agriculture.
Genetically-engineered seeds are being tried in India, which are intended to improve crop yields. But why are farmers protesting against using them?
Will the farmers themselves benefit from genetically-engineered crops, or just the multinational companies?
Are these companies taking advantage of the farmers in developing nations or is this a practical way of tackling the problems farmers face?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
As a crop biotechnologist, having worked in India and the West, I would say that genetically engineered food crops have huge potential in solving the problems of malnutrition (say iron and vitamin deficiency) and hunger. One possible danger comes from antibiotic markers and scientists have already found a solution for that.
We should never oppose a technology that promises to increase production and improve the living standards of the masses. If the profits are being made by multinationals let's think of a way of narrowing the disparities.
Let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.
The idea touted by the multinationals that
GM foods will make India self-sufficient as far as food is concerned
is not true. The green revolution
in Punjab clearly showed that
India can achieve near self-sufficiency using better
farming techniques. Punjab produces
enough wheat for nearly the entire country.
The problem in India is not about lack of food,
but lack of proper measures to distribute
it. GM foods will not solve that issue.
Sudhir Deshmukh, USA
The promotion of genetically modified crops has got nothing to do with the improvement in food security of billions of people in India. On the contrary it serves to profit a few multinational firms that are promoting it. The problem with India is not food production, it is food distribution.
The use of these seeds is not at all good for the soil as it loses fertility and we will end up using the fertilisers and pesticides these companies sell.
The problem lies at the ground level with bureaucracy. India should give priority to feeding the hungry with highly nutritious crops. Supposing a variety of crop can give you wheat with a high proportion of protein and nutrients in less time than traditional crops. I would say it should be encouraged not discouraged.
Farmers in India, have traditionally saved some proportion of the harvest for the next crop. What these MNC's want is for farmers to buy seeds every time they sow the crop. I wonder who will make more money?
Brajesh Singh, UK
The developing countries with large populations such as India and China seem to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, existing land is rapidly losing fertility and farming techniques don't seem to go beyond a certain point in boosting yield. This is countered by a steady growth in population.
However, it should be recalled that in India, a significant portion of the harvest every year is lost to pests and ruination due to poor storage facilities. This needs to be addressed first. Secondly, the introduction of some modern agricultural techniques commonly used in the West will help boost yields even further. Genetically modified foods should be used sparingly and people anywhere should never be used as guinea pigs for experimentation with unproven technology.
Birbal Chungkham, Manipur/ USA
It not so much food production as the will or means of distribution that needs to be addressed.
Genetic engineering is the fast track of natural engineering and I do not think the proponents have the moral fibre to bear the consequences if thing go wrong. The whole idea of exploiting the poorest of the poor in the economic process of the world makes the idea repugnant. We need guarantees in plain English without small print before these multinationals are let loose on humans.
The traditional crops of India are chosen because they survive one of the most hostile conditions, and they don't hurt nature because of being natural themselves. I don't think the new genetically modified seeds, tested in artificial conditions, will be able to sustain these conditions. It will result in small farmers losing all they have, in the name of these experiments. They will have to properly be compensated, which again I think the US companies will never do in case the experiments fail. For them, it may be just an experiment, but for small time Indian farmers, it's their livelihood.
The problems, that the farmers in
India and even world-wide are facing
are not so much due to low yield of
crops as due to problems in what they
choose to produce, and in selling
all they produce for good price,
before the produce is spoiled.
Even the amount of food already
produced in India and worldwide is
more than enough to feed every
human and use as fodder.
Sarah Ellerker, UK
Let these bio-tech companies prove beyond doubt that genetically modified crops are safe for human consumption. I still haven't forgotten the genetic defects that monarch butterflies suffered on consuming these food. These companies are taking advantage of the poor farmers. Let them experiment in us and Europe before they sell them to poorer countries. NO one in India has forgotten Bhopal tragedy and how irresponsible US was in compensating the affected victims. Is Monsanto immune to law suits outside US?
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to more South Asian stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy