Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TNAU refutes charges relating to Genetically Modified crops


Staff Reporter

GM maize trial is being conducted with the approval of Govt.

Coimbatore: Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) has refuted the
charges made by Safe Food Alliance pertaining to field trial of
Genetically Modified (GM) crop varieties.

No scientific basis

The university in a release referring to media reports about the
agitation conducted by the Alliance said that “allegation that Bt
Maize under research trial in TNAU is hazardous has no scientific

Similarly, genetically modified maize engineered to have insect
resistance and herbicide tolerance had been approved for commercial
cultivation in several countries.

Moreover, the products of GM maize were approved as food and feed in
several countries including Japan and European Unions.

No scientific study had proved that cultivation of GM crops or
consumption of GM produce had led to serious health and reproductive

TNAU also refuted the charge that the university was secretly
conducting field trials and pointed out that all GM crops under
development were regulated by the Government of India. The GM maize
trial was being conducted in TNAU with the approval of the

The claim of the group that GM crops were unanimously opposed by
farmers was far from truth as 82 per cent of the cotton area in India
was presently under GM cotton.

Within six years of approval, GM cotton had occupied almost the entire
cotton area.

The fact showed that the GM cotton, the only approved GM crop in
India, was highly popular among farmers. No farmer would adopt a
technology if it was found useless.

In 2001-02, the average yield of cotton was 308 kg/hectares with a
total production of 15.8 million bales.

Presently, under Bt Cotton the average yield increased to 591 kg/ha
with the total production of 32.2 million bales.

The GM maize trial laid out in TNAU was meant to study the
effectiveness of GM maize against stem borers and weeds. The impact of
GM maize against non-target pests and soil eco-systems would also be

The GM maize was still under research and development and would be
approved for commercial cultivation only after it passed all
regulatory (bio safety) requirements stipulated by the Government.

The release said that TNAU would never employ any technology that
would be detrimental to the farmers and Indian agriculture.

Agricultural scientists had a thorough understanding of the
intricacies of the technology and it was highly inappropriate for
certain groups campaigning against GM crops to decide upon what and
what not the scientists should do.

TNAU requested the public and farmers not to get misguided by the
erring statements issued by a few in this regard.

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