BiodiversityFood ShortagesGMOs

“GM Crops Cannot Be the Answer,” say scientists

The evidence favors ecological approaches

New Delhi, September 24 2012: World renowned scientists, addressing a media briefing here, asserted that India’s lack of food and nutrition security is not just a technological problem. However, the solution will require both social and technological changes, they said. The scientists recommended a holistic paradigm emphasizing ecological farming, supported by conventional breeding to make optimum use of local knowledge and natural resources.

"How we grow our crops, what kind of crops will be grown, where and by whom, are in fact the critical questions", said Prof Hans Herren, Co-Chair of IAASTD who was awarded the World Food Prize in 1995. "India must invest in rural infrastructure and institutions".

Massive anti-GMO rally in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India

Agriculture of the future must be regenerative and sustainable. The scientists found transgenic approaches incompatible with sustainable agriculture and livelihoods. "What we really need is a shift in paradigm, where a holistic approach drives our interventions in agriculture without reductionist solutions hogging the centre-stage and taking away precious resources", Prof Herren said.

"The path of adopting widespread use of high-tech GMO technology in the USA has been accompanied by greater consolidation of resources and power for few seed companies, higher seed prices, greater risk for farmers and less choice in varieties with hardly any increase in productivity", said Dr Walter Goldstein of the Mandaamin Institute.

Sharing findings from his long term experiment on agro-ecological approaches, Dr Om Rupela, soil micro-biologist, shared that out of 6 years of the 8 years’ study, organic approaches yielded the same or higher than the chemical plot, even as costs were lower in organic. "Overall soil health and water-holding capacity improved substantially".

Dr G V Ramanjaneyulu of Centre for Sustainable Agriculture shared information about the large-scale eco-farming programme unfolding in Andhra Pradesh and pointed out that a change in institutional approaches, particularly of Extension, was all it took to take NPM (Non Pesticidal Management) to 3.5 million acres in the state.

Quoting from a study done on productivity contributions from transgenic crops in the USA, Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists informed that conventional breeding and farm management continue to greatly out-perform transgenic technology when it comes to yield improvements.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Pushpa Bhargava, Founder-Director of Centre for Cellular & Molecular Biology pointed out that the history of GM crops in India is one of breaking our own laws.

The scientists addressed the question as to whether GM is needed to meet the challenge of sustainably nourishing the world.

"Only two countries in the world, both in South America, grow GM on more than 40% of their agricultural land and both are suffering from an increased food insecurity. Most of their poor neighbors that have not adopted GM have improving food security statistics", shared Prof Jack Heinemann, University of Canterbury (New Zealand).

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