Govt to bat for GM crops in SC: Pawar

Govt to bat for GM crops in SC: Pawar

Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday said the Centre would file an affidavit in the Supreme Court favouring cultivation of genetically-modified (GM) crops with dedicated monitoring protocols.

Pawar said the government was committed to the use of bio-technology and other new technologies for agriculture development and backed field trials of GM crops with “crop-specific dedicated monitoring protocols system”. 

“The matter is before the Supreme Court. We will have a hearing sometime in the next month. We have to send a joint affidavit by Environment and Agriculture Ministries giving our views,” Pawar said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a conference to draft the strategies for the kharif season. Pawar stressed on the necessity to raise the production of pulses and oilseeds as the import bill for edible oils was Rs 73,840 crore in 2012-13.

Hearing a petition against GM crops, the Supreme Court had set up a technical expert committee (TEC), which suggested an indefinite moratorium on such trials unless shortcomings in the regulatory process were plugged. But one member gave a dissenting note opposing the moratorium.

Subsequently, the apex court had asked the government to submit its stand on the issue.

On the stand that government would take on the GM crop issue in the affidavit, Pawar said: “Generally, our stand is that we want to continue research in both public and private sectors. We want to continue field trials. Simultaneously, we are ready to take all precautions.”

The government is not against GM crops, he said, “but, we do not want to give a free hand also. We are cautious about it.” Pawar also said the government has put in place contingency plans to deal with the eventuality of poor monsoon this year.

Reports had it that the periodical warming of the central Pacific Ocean – the El Nino phenomenon – is expected to impact the monsoon rains in the country this year.
However, he said that as of now it appeared that El Nino will not have a significant impact on the monsoon.

Pawar exuded confidence that agriculture growth may surpass the four per cent target set for the 12th five year plan.

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