With food prices rising sharply over the last few months, agricultural biotechnology is the need of the hour as it increases crop productivity and ensures food security, experts in Thiruvananthapuram said on Monday.
At a two-day conference on 'Modern Biotechnology in Indian Agriculture' starting Monday, biotechnology experts pointed out that agricultural biotechnology would modernise agriculture, increase crop yield, enhance the livelihood of farmers and make food affordable.
The conference has been jointly organised by the All India Crop Biotechnology Association (AICBA), Environment Resource Research Centre (ERRC), Thiruvananthapuram, and Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, Bangalore.
"People in developing countries spend 50 to 80 percent of their income on food and depend on agriculture for their living. So lower food prices are critical. However, there are still many opposing agricultural biotechnology, which is proven to give higher yield and is safe for humans, animal, and environment," said C. Kameswara Rao of FBAE.
He said agricultural productivity enhances crop productivity without increasing area of arable land or irrigation facilities. It aims at efficient utilisation of inputs.
According to Shanthu Shantharam of the US-based Biologistics International, the regulatory burden on biotech development has become unaffordable for both the private and the public sector. This would severely hamper indigenous technological development in developing countries.
"Biotechnology regulatory policies must be strictly based on scientific assessment of risk and not on any sloganeering and campaigning by public interest groups," said Shantharam.
AICBA director Sajiv Anand said the country's large pool of agriculture scientific talent, public and private sector research and development investment, combined with a large farmer base could make India a major contributor to national and global food security and a leader in agri-research.
"Growing adoption of biotech-enhanced crops could contribute significantly to achieving the United Nation's Millennium Development Goal of reducing poverty and hunger by 50 per cent by 2050," he said.