'Scientists have become pawns of corporates'

Their role in promotion of GM crops flayed

 
The debate with the theme “What Genetically Modified (GM) food crops mean to the common man” organised by CIVIC, a not-for profit organisation saw speakers charging agriculture scientists becoming pawns of corporates selling BT products.

The debate organised by the CIVIC, a not-for-profit organisation, had academicians and farmers discuss the raging issue of BT products, all set to flood the Indian markets.

Narayan Swamy, a farmer who used to produce BT cotton, said agriculturists like himself were at the mercy of corporates who could raise the prices of seeds as they wished. Such arbitrariness was now forcing agriculturists back to organic farming, he said.

Another speaker, Dr Devinder Sharma said: “For 40 years since the Green Revolution, agriculture scientists have been misleading the general public on the merits of GM crops. Their claims of helping the farmers have fallen short of assuring anybody of the validity of these products.” Sharma shared the figures of average income of a Indian farmer coming to only Rs 2,115 as per the NSS data of 2002-03.

He held farm scientists responsible for the current failure of cotton crops in the country. “The figures speak for themselves. Cotton production in the past four years is at its lowest this year,” he said.

He argued the only solution provided by the scientists to the problems of Green Revolution was another “Green Revolution” for enhancing yields.

Countering Sharma, Dr T M Manjunath, who was earlier associated with GM seeds producer Monsanto, said people who opposed the GM crops had not understood the meaning of BT and biotechnological advances in science. “As per the figures provided by the Government of India, cotton production has tripled since 1950-51. It is only due to BT cotton that it has been possible for India to become an exporter in the product from being an importer prior to the Green Revolution,” he said.

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