Former Greenpeace member Patrick Moore can be accused of exaggerating when he held his former organisation guilty of complicity in the death of two million children a year, but his point needs to be heard. Moore’s point is that millions of children die due to disease resulting from Vitamin A deficiency, and that this is something easily cured by ‘golden rice’, a genetically modified form of rice that has a higher beta carotene content than ordinary rice—the option to golden rice is to implement a costly vitamin supplement programme in each of these countries.
The point, as environment minister Veerappa Moily said when clearing trials of various GM crops last week, science is being used in all manner of fields, why not use it in agriculture as well? What was unconscionable was that, for over a year, after the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) cleared the field trials, Moily’s predecessor simply refused to ratify the decision. A McKinsey estimate, that GM crops will have an economic impact of $100-200 billion across the world by 2025, best brings out the potential that India
doesn’t want to even be a part of. Given how GM has transformed
India’s cotton growing, that is a real shame. It is an even bigger shame when you consider the productivity hike that GM offers, or the solutions it could offer in terms of severe heat resistant seeds or those that consume a lot less water or even do well in saline areas.