A senior Government advisor on Tuesday pitched for “no irrational resistance” to genetically-modified (GM) crops and believed that nanotechnology could help Indian agriculture overcome problems of declining landholdings, increasing numbers of marginal cultivators and land degradation.

“There should be no irrational resistance to GM crops once careful research has been done, field trials have been completed, and Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) approval has been obtained,” said R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Indian Government, said at the ‘4th Bio-Nano Agri Summit’ hosted by Assocham here on Thursday.

Chidambaram was talking about the need for climate resilient agriculture and mitigation and adaptation strategies had to include development of new crop varieties, including GM crops, alongside soil health restoration.

“Agriculture contributes less than 20 per cent of India’s GDP (gross domestic product), accounts for over 10 per cent of India’s exports and employs over half of our workforce, the latter number is three per cent for the USA,” he said.

He highlighted the need for more techniques to improve domestic irrigation facilities to save water with farmers consuming “about 80 per cent of State water supply” and also suggested the need for a grid for basmati rice research and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles such as indigenously-built NETRA in agriculture.

Chidambaram also pushed for technologies to prevent food wastage and pest attacks on crops. “While ensuring food and nutritional security, we have to provide mechanism for ensuring increased farmers incomes,” he said.