Transgenic (genetically modified) crops may become necessary in future, as the population is exploding, but there should be strict screening and testing facilities for GM food crops, according to Lalji Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the Hindu Benaras University and the former director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Lalji Singh, who was here to receive the Nayudamma memorial award, said in an interview that, “we should not be phobic about genetically modified food crops, they may be quite necessary in future, as the population is exploding. How can we meet our food needs if we do not accept the genetically modified crops? We have to double or treble our food production. But as in the US or elsewhere in the west, we must have strict protocols and procedures for testing and screening such crops. There may be no danger. But we have to take all precautions. At the same time, we should not have unfounded apprehensions and fears.”

Quality seeds

Even without genetic modification, he felt, a lot could be done by providing quality seeds to farmers in the country.

“We should have in mind the small farmers and the size of holdings in our country and our farm research should be given that orientation. We in the BHU are also doing our bit. We have an agricultural lab in the university and we have provided quality seeds to farmers in the neighbourhood and the response to the initiative was tremendous. But our resources are limited and we can help farmers to the extent possible,” he said.

sarma.rs@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on February 19, 2013)
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