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Pawar favours field trial of GM crops

February 18, 2013 15:09 IST

Amid depleting natural resources, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar on Monday again pushed for field trials of genetically modified (GM) crops saying such a right should not be denied to scientists.

The Minister said he has already written to all state chief ministers on this issue and also offered to send a team of scientists for further deliberation.

While some states have responded positively to his suggestion, some like Bihar have opposed it.

His remarks come in the wake of recommendations made recently by the Parliamentary Panel suggested banning all field trial of GM crops.

Addressing the 84th annual general meeting of the ICAR, Pawar said: "Constrained by limited availability of natural resources including land, we do not have any option but try to achieve major breakthrough in productivity to ensure food security of 1.2 billion plus population.

"We cannot afford to curtail the vigour of our scientific community and deny them the right to conduct field trial (trial of) GM crops... The process of research should not be stopped and it should not be jeopardised," he said.

Currently, the government has allowed commercial cultivation of Bt cotton, while it imposed moratorium on Bt brinjal in 2010 due to concerns expressed by green activists.

Stressing on public private partnership (PPP) in agriculture research and education, Pawar said Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) should involve private sector through innovative PPP models to boost investment.

As the 12th Five Year Plan gives greater thrust to agriculture, the Minister said the ICAR should gear up to scientific research in critical areas like nanotechnology, farm mechanisation, research consortia platforms for seeds among others.

He also emphasised the need to tap potential of north east region besides focusing on improving fodder supply, reducing production cost and improving oilseeds and pulses.

The ICAR must prioritise technologies towards the resource poor farmers not only to enable them to take advantage of new technologies which can increase their farm production but also to reduce drudgery in farming, he added.

The plan allocation for ICAR, which functions under the Agriculture Ministry, during the 12th plan (2012-17) is estimated at Rs 25,253 crore (Rs 252.53 billion). The Council is planning to hire 800 scientists this year.

Image: Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar

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