More funds for GM crop R&D sought

Written by ASHOK B SHARMA | New Delhi , Feb 27 | Updated: Feb 28 2008, 04:40am hrs
International Services for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA), the global promoter agency for transgenic crops, has urged the government to increase its budgetary allocation in R&D for genetically modified (GM) crops.

Speaking to FE, ISAAA chair Clive James said, India needs to increase R&D support for development of transgenic crops in the interest of food security, health and environment. The extensive use of chemical pesticides has created health problems leading to dangerous diseases and has also degraded the environment. The Bt cotton experiment in India has successfully demonstrated a marked reduction in chemical pesticide use and creating a healthy farm environment. The outdated practice of use of chemical pesticides should be replaced by use of most modern technologybiotechnologyfor containment of pests.

He said that India need to follow China in boosting investment in transgenic crops. China invests more than half of the crop biotech budget of the developing countries estimated at $ 180 million in 2001. He said that among the industrial countries US was the leader in investment in crop biotechnology.

James said that the current global R&D expenditure in private and public sectors was over $ 4.4 billion with over 95% of the total in the industrial countries, led by the US. He said that in industrial countries a number of second generation transgenic food crops ensuring nutritional security and resistances to drought and abiotic and biotic stresses were in the pipeline.

The science and technology advisor to the US Adminstration, Nina Fedoroff was recently in India . She had urged the industry to boost their R&D for transgenic crops. She also met senior government officials and minister.

However, the apex body of the pesticide industry, Agrochemicals Policy Group has said that the annual crop loss worth Rs 90,000 crore can be reduced by application of chemical pesticides. They have demanded that the government policy document acknowledge crop protection chemicals as part of the technology package.