Delivering the special address at the International Conference on Agricultural Biotechnology, in Delhi on Monday, the director-general of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Mangla Rai said : Even the controversial terminator technology can be deployed to control dangerous weeds. We should initiate a debate on this issue and conduct necessary research.
The conference was organized by the apex industry body, FICCI in collaboration with the department of biotechnology, ICAR and co-sponsored by USDA and seed multinational Monsanto and its Indian partner Mahyco.
Terminator technology has been criticised by farmers and NGOs as the seeds turn sterile after first generation and can impact other crops in the vicinity.
Rai said that acceleration of farm economy can be achieved through transgenic technology. Rice plants can be developed to produce less methane and the productivity of wheat can be enhanced. The expectations from transgenic technology is high, while the present achievements are not to that level. This is why there is widespread criticism, he said.
He, however, favoured risk-based assessments before release of transgenic crops. He said under US-India Knowledge Initiative development of transgenic crops and bio-fuel programme would be taken up.
Rai informed that 16 transgenic crops with 7 traits, were being developed by the public sector research institutes in the country.
The Argentina deputy secretary for agriculture policy and food, Fernando Nebbia said that transgenic technology was no longer a frontier science in his country. We are well into it, he said and added that 18 million hectare was under transgenic crops in Argentina.
He said that his country was undergoing a bio-diesel revolution as opposed to bio-ethanol use in Brazil.
Meanwhile Greenpeace India has criticized Bt brinjals field trials in the campuses of the public sector research institutes as violation of the apex court order. The Genetic Engineering Approval Committee had recently approved field trials of Bt brinjal.