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Economy Sep 5, 2012

Without Bt crops, India missing on development: expert

Boone, United States: India is missing on development by not permitting Bt technology in crops other than cotton despite certification from leading international bodies regarding the safety of genetically modified (GM) plant technology, experts said.

Over 30 countries who have adopted Bt technology have increased productivity of key crops like wheat, corn and cotton manifold, Rashmi S Nair, director, Emerging markets Regulatory Policy & Scientific Affairs, Monsanto said.

No to Bt crop. Reuters

She was speaking to a group of visiting Indian journalists on the sidelines of Farm Progress Show held recently.

"India by not allowing Bt in crops other than cotton is missing the development bus," she said.

While states like Gujarat and Punjab have not objected to GM crops, others like Bihar, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Karnataka have refused permission for Bt crop field trials.

India had imposed a moratorium of an unspecified period, in 2009 on commercial release of Bt brinjal on health grounds.

Nair dismissed arguments given against the GM that it carries health hazard saying there is no document to prove this.

GM plant technology has been approved by European Union (EU) as well UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), she said.

Michael K Doane, vice president, Sustainable Agriculture Policy, Monsanto said US, Brazil, China, Germany and many other countries have increased productivity of key agriproduce in the same acreage by adopting Bt crops.

Robert T Fraley, executive vice president and chief technology officer of Monsanto, gave long illustration to highlight efficiency of GM crops.

Jay Mahaffey, Learning Centre Manager at Memphis, said Bt crops are made available for commercial sale only after rigorous regulatory tests are done.

They said India has already witnessed remarkable success of Bt cotton and hence there is no genuine scientific reasons to prohibit farmers to go for GM technology in other crops.

The 28-30 August Farm Progress Show at Boone, IOWA, organised by Monsanto displayed newer technology and tools to address the on-farm challenges facing cultivators.

It showcased tools and products available for farmers to help address weed management, insect management, disease management and yield optimisation.

PTI

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