‘Address concerns through globally accepted procedures’

In what could be music to the ears for supporters of genetically-modified (GM) technology, President Pranab Mukherjee, on Tuesday said that development and introduction of GM crops had the potential to revolutionise agriculture.

“The concerns over their (GM crops) perceived risks should be addressed by following internationally accepted procedures for assessing safety parameters,” Mukherjee said in his address at the 85{+t}{+h} Foundation Day of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). “ICAR, which is involved in developing useful products and technologies in this field, must contribute to the public discourse and provide clarity on this sensitive issue,” the President added.

Mukherjee said that agriculture should be made an intellectually stimulating discipline and a rewarding profession to attract talent. Agriculture education should focus on the contemporary challenges of food insecurity, declining productivity, depletion of natural resources, increased risk from climate change, regional imbalance, rising input costs, changing food habits and post-harvest management.

“The quality and relevance of agricultural research must be enhanced to bring within its domain cutting edge technologies like biosensors, genomics, biotechnology, nanotechnology and alternative energy sources,” Mukherjee added.

Stating that agriculture retained primary importance in terms of value creation and employment generation in our economy, President Mukherjee called upon the scientific fraternity to work towards a technology-led path for development of agriculture and prosperity of the farming community.

Speaking on the occasion, Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar, said apart from challenges such as shrinking land base, dwindling water resources, shortage of farm labour and increasing costs, climate change was threatening growth and sustainability of agriculture in India.

He felt that accelerating the growth of agriculture production was necessary not only to achieve the target of eight per cent growth in overall GDP during the 12{+t}{+h} Plan, but also to realise ‘inclusive’ growth.


(This article was published on July 16, 2013)
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