The GM ‘bonanza’

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SummaryApropos of the column “How TEC got it all wrong” (FE, August 28), of late there has been a flurry of articles in the print media on GM crops

Apropos of the column “How TEC got it all wrong” (FE, August 28), of late there has been a flurry of articles in the print media on GM crops, all of them extolling the virtues of how great the technology is and how Indian farmers are going to miss out on the benefits unless they adopt it post-haste! The latest in the series is the column by NT Yaduraju, the learned president of the Indian Society of Weed Science, who has emphatically trashed all the arguments put forth by the TEC (Technical Evaluation Committee) against adopting GM seeds. Unfortunately, almost all the articles, including the one by Yaduraju, have been silent about the long-term cost of adopting GM technology. The traditional low-cost system of using seeds from the last crop will no longer work and the farmer—and if he can’t pay, the nation—will have to bear the cost of continuing to import seeds, or depend on seeds grown locally in MNC laboratories. Being fully covered under the laws governing IPR, no one could even attempt to replicate them if they tried. It could turn out to be a veritable monster ending up with thousands of farmers committing suicide unable to sustain the burden of ballooning input costs of new seeds, while they would have lost access to the old seeds for good! Resistance to weeds is the least of the farmers’ worries—farm holdings are too small to sustain the cost of GM technology. With the state the rupee is currently in, any imports, even for seeds, would be a serious drain on the nation’s finances. Perhaps it is Yaduraju, and not TEC, who has got it all wrong!

RC Acharya, Delhi

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