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Nano-Technology Will Make GM Obsolete.

New Delhi: India achieve self-sufficiency in foodgrain, feels GM technology, which has generated much heat in the country, will soon become "obsolete" with the advent of nano-technology and other solutions. Noted agricultural scientist M.S. Swaminathan, hailed as the mentor of the Green Revolution.

He also felt that, due to the prolonged drought, climatic aberrations and adverse market conditions, as the new Uttar Pradesh government has done, it was "very important" that the loans of farmers across the country be waived. He was chairman of the committee that prepared a report on the More Crop and Income Per Drop of Water initiative. Swaminathan, who served as Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research and Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education (1972-79).

There was no clear public policy on GM crops, Swaminathan said, while speaking on the efforts by a group of scientists pushing for commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops in India as well as the opposition to this by environment activists.

To achieve the objective of food security but noted that this required concrete political intervention, new technologies were coming, which could be used, said Swaminathan.

Swaminathan said, "We have only one (GM crop) in cotton now, which is failing as new pests have come. Now, nanotechnology is coming, which will make GM technology obsolete. Gene therapy technology has come, so it is not necessary to go to the GM's root. Things are happening in the scientific world, but in the political world we require some legislation or regulation as we have for our nuclear entity. We need a technology regulatory authority."

At the same time, he said GM crops should be supported on a case-by-case basis. Swaminathan was firm in his support for the farmers. Another factor adding to the farmers' agony was poor returns for their yield despite assurances from the government, he said.

To adopt a number of measures both short term and long term including the human issues of farmers, various steps to provide incentives, alleviation of human distress and revival of agriculture, the central and state governments should work together, he felt. Import and export policies, food pricing and food policy are also important," he added.


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