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Farmers & Sellers Interview

Interview with Mr. Rao regarding Genetically modified product

Q: What is genetically modified (GM) product?

Rao :Through trial and error, farmers have learnt to replant seeds from their most successful crops and to cross-pollinate crops. By this method, farmers change the genetic makeup of plants and select again and again until they produce a new food variety. These processes cause genetic changes in the plant. Traditional breeding such as this take several years before the final variety is produced. It can take several generations of breeding and up to 10-12 years before farmers are able to establish the traits they desire in the plant and breed away less desirable traits.

Q: Where is the availability seen of GM product?

Rao:Today, genetically Modified (GM) products are available in seven countries: US, Spain, France, Canada, Australia, Mexico and Argentina. In the US, which allowed transgenic products just five years ago, they already accounted for 50 per cent of all soyabean, corn and cotton acreage.

Q: In India, whether the scope of GM product is there?

Rao:In India, scientists working in the field of biotechnology expect that the bulk of commercially cultivated plants will be genetically engineered in the next 10 years. An adviser at the department of bio-technology, that is responsible for monitoring and clearing all the gene tampering being done in the country.

Q: Whether transgenic foods are safe to eat and second, whether they damage the environment?

Rao: In India, the review committee on genetic manipulation has asked labs to generate information on the organism, which donates the gene, the organisms used for transferring the genes themselves and characteristic of transgenic plants. Labs have to take separate permission for lab experiments, for trials in the greenhouse, for trails on small plots and trials on larger plots. After reviewing all this, and if found safe, a transgenic plant is allowed to be commercialized.

Q: what you would like to suggest regarding the use of GM product?

Rao: For the time being, the gene tech revolution seems to be on its way and all set to enter your kitchen soon and hence you can go for it.