Claims on BT cotton needs to be probed: Panel

Claims on BT cotton needs to be probed: Panel

Starting the debate on controversial GM crop once again, the Parliamentary panel headed by Congress MP Renuka Chowdhury in a report accused government of putting a rosy picture of the GM crops which is far away from reality.

The report of the Standing committee on Science and Technology asserted that the government has cited only the overall cotton output and not the average yield in area. The report noted that India's cotton yield increased by 69% in 5 years (2000-05) when BT cotton area was less than 6% of total cotton area, but by only 10% in 10 years from 2005-15 when BT cotton grew to 94% of the total cotton area.

Thus, the committee stated that further examination is required with respect to duality of the claims about the increase in cotton yields.

The panel also fired upon the government for having a casual approach regarding the necessity for a scientific study of GM crops impact on health. They reiterated the government's carelessness in not conducting its own study and rather depending on the studies conducted in various countries.

The committee in its report also stated the efficacy of the GM crop by asserting the usage of the technology all over the world. They noted that even though after twenty years of the introduction of GM crops, only six countries continues to account for 90% of all GM crops globally including US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India; thereby showcasing the unpopularity of the technology.

Ms. Chowdhury further mentioned the observations made by the Ministry of Agriculture, as per which the herbicide tolerant gene have the possibility to escape through pollen into nearby farms and fields into another GM and non-GM crops, leading to contamination of the crops that could be one of the reasons by which India can loose its competitive edge on some of our unique products.

Hence the committee has recommended that without conducting proper bio safety and socio-economic desirability studies, no GM crop variant must be introduced in the country.