Blaming Environment minister Jairam Ramesh's "predisposition due to politics" as the reason behind government's no to GM crops, a pro-biotech crops group led by farm leader Sharad Joshi today advocated allowing farmers to cultivate genetically modified agri produce.
Joshi and others cited demonstrable benefits of Bt cotton in support of their pro-biotech crops argument.
"Over 25 countries including USA, Canada, Argentina, Brazil and many European nations are successfully cultivating biotech crops...There is no scientific logic in government resistance to GM crops citing health hazards," Joshi told reporters.
Besides Joshi, Director National Research Centre on Plant Biotechnology (NRCPB) P Anand Kumar, Plant Molecular Physiologist I S Dua and Director National Seeds Association of India (NSAI) N K Dadlani also spoke during the press meet.
The meet was organised by ABLE (Association of Biotechnology Led Enterprises), the collective face of Indian Biotech Industry.
Joshi, founder of Shetkari Sanghatana, attributed the government disapproval to the GM crops to Jairam Ramesh's "predisposition guided by politics".
Indian government had in mid-February this year issued a moratorium on the development of GM aubergine (Bt Brinjal, as it is known locally).
Joshi, former Member of Parliament, said the opinion (on adoption of latest agri technology especially biotech crops) is mixed even in the principal opposition party BJP.
"While a group of new breed of leaders within BJP are in favour of adopting latest farm technology another one represented by Murli Manohar Joshi and Hukumdeo Narain Yadav (both MPs) favour old agricultural practises," he added.
Joshi and others highlighted merits of biotech crops which they said have no negative impact on environment and human health.
"GM technology helps in mixing seed faster than hybridisation process and can help in developing drought-resistant crops," Joshi added.
"Seeds developed through GM technology can survive in extreme climate (over 48 degree celsius and below zero degree celsius)", he said.
Ravichandran, a farmer from Tamil Nadu, citing success story of Bt cotton made a strong case for biotech crops.
"Indian farmers are intelligent enough to judge if genetically modified crops are beneficial or not," he said.
Joshi and others said Bt cotton has helped India become second largest producer and exporter of cotton in the world.