Despite the development of GM crop varieties, their delivery to farmers is constricted by “misguided NGOs and scientists”, which is hindering research, said Prof Deepak Pental of the Genetics Department, Delhi University.
Professor Pental talked at length on the issue while delivering the keynote address during the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Foundation Day celebrations held at the National Botanical Research Institute on Thursday.
Explaining the combination of genetics and genomics for the development of new crop varieties, Prof Paintal said: “In 1993, we observed that hybrids between mustard lines of the Indian gene pool and east European gene pool are more productive than those grown by farmers. It took us around ten years to develop hybrids DMH-1 and DMH-11. DMH-1 was found to be superior by 15-20 per cent, compared to the best varieties, and was released for cultivation.”
“DMH-11, developed in 2002, is based on a transgenic (GM) system of pollination control. Two-year field trials were completed in Rajasthan following bio-safety protocols. Given the controversies around transgenic plants, it cannot be predicted when the technology will reach farmers,” he said.
“Transgenic approaches are necessary to tackle yield decreasing diseases. Certain misguided NGOs have specialised in spreading fear, while some scientists are seeking moratorium on testing and use of transgenic crops,” he added.