“GENETIC RESEARCH lacks focus. Scientists are not quite interested in working on important issues,” said Dr Suman Prasad of Gene Campaign, New Delhi.
Speaking on “Genetically Engineered Crops and Foods in India,” at Hotel Charans on Wednesday, she said there were more important issues like alienating the unwanted gene from nutritious khesari daal, but the scientists were busy injecting genes in tomatoes and potatoes. “Khesari daal has high nutritious value but for a gene that causes paralysis-like disease, the pulses has been banned in many parts of the country. Why the scientists are not trying to isolate it from pulses?” she quipped.
Refuting the claim that GM crops are a hope for the undernourished and starved, Prof Prasad said that the problem of starvation and undernourishment were manifold and they should be looked into a broader perspective.
Citing an example, she said that there was an example of golden rice, wherein the rice is injected with Vitamin A with the intention of supplementing the vitamin to prevent millions of children going blind every year. About the herbicide tolerance, she said it was possible in a country like the USA but Indian farms were not so big as in America.
Defending his point for genetically modified food Dr Vivek Prasad said the GM technology could only help the world in mitigating hunger, but it was not answer to global hunger. He said the conventional methods were not useful to meet the growing need until the technology was introduced. Utkarsha Sinha of Centre for Contemporary Study and Research (CCSR) presided over the programme.