As the debate over whether Genetically Modified crops should or should not be used in the country rages on, the Planning Commission in its draft document for the 12th five-year plan has advocated putting in place proper regulatory mechanism and operational protocols in before permitting the use of GMOs in Indian crops.
The Commission which sets the general agenda for the government in its five-year plan documents has however warned that such a mechanism should only be put in place only if it is generally agreed that advantages of GM crops outweigh precautionary misgivings.
It also said that as significant breakthroughs are required to cope with increasing stress, particularly in rain fed crops, it is necessary to remain abreast with latest advances in bio-technology, which mainly do not involve the use of GMO.
In India, the government has permitted the use of GMOs in cotton. However, it has not been that forthcoming in implementing the same for food items.
Few years back, a move to allow commercial production of GM brinjal was put into the back-burner because of inadequate scientific data. Since, then there has been no other crop which has been cleared for commercial cultivation though field trials of many are continuing.
“With more than 90 per cent of the cotton area now under BT and cotton production more than doubling over the last decade, there is no doubt general farmer acceptance or its being a clear case of technological transformation unlike other rainfed crops,” the Commission said in its draft report.
However, it must also be noted, the Commission said that even if the entire increase in cotton since end of 9th plan is attributed to BT, this contributed less than 25 per cent increase in productivity gains in rainfed crops during the 10th and 11th plan even excluding horticulture.