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Study Adverse Effects of Transgenic Crops: Pawar
Gargi Parsai
The Hindu, Monday August 11, 2008

NEW DELHI: The Centre envisages a major role for the private sector for enhancing the production of quality seeds for which biotechnology will be the mainstay. At the same time, Agriculture and Food Minister Sharad Pawar feels the concerns about possible adverse effects of genetically modified crops should be seriously looked into.

According to the Minister, the National Seeds Policy of 2002 recognises biotechnology as a key factor in the coming decades to meet the increasing demand for food with enhancement of both its quantity and quality.

“With limited natural resources available to improve agricultural production, genetically engineered crops developed by applying bio-technological tools are being looked upon as a promising alternative which can benefit farmers, manufacturers, as well as consumers,” he told participants of a two-day national seminar on “Seed and Crop Technologies for Doubling Agricultural Production” organised by the National Seeds Association of India (NSAI) here on Saturday.

Calling upon the seed industry to pay greater attention to developing quality seeds in cereals and legumes, he said each genetically engineered plant should be considered on its own merit. For economic sustainability, the transgenic variety of crops should be specific to different agro-climatic zones. “While doing so, the serious concerns that have often been expressed about the possible adverse effects of transgenic crops on human and animal health and environment should be seriously looked into.”

Pointing to the growth of the global production and cultivation of genetically engineered crops, Mr. Pawar said the major transgenic crops were soybean, maize, cotton, canola, potato and papaya.

In India, genetically modified cotton (Bt cotton) had been approved for commercial cultivation. The first Bt hybrids were allowed for commercial cultivation in 2002.

Since then more than 200 hybrids of private seed companies had been approved for commercial cultivation.

The area under Bt cotton cultivation had increased from 29,000 hectares in 2002 to about 6.5 million hectares in the kharif of 2007, the Minster said.
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