House panel wants probe into nod for Bt cotton too
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture that has recommended an investigation into the "Bt brinjal matter", has also asked for an "in-depth probe" into permission granted to cultivation of Bt cotton more than 10 years earlier, while admitting that it had based its conclusions not just on the "pure science" of genetically engineered crops.
The committee has, therefore, cautioned the government against letting the "same fate befall" the agriculture sector, as had happened in "communications, pharma, mineral wealth and several other sectors". The committee said the government's "tearing hurry to open the economy to private prospectors" and its "facilitative benevolence" had led to "collosal, unfettered loot and plunder of national wealth" and "unimaginable sufferings to the common man".
The recommendation on Bt cotton is surprising in light of the fact that even many critics of Bt brinjal acknowledge the success story of Bt cotton. Bt cotton seeds have led to over 80 per cent jump in the average cotton yield from 309 kg per hectare in 2001-02 to 560 kg per hectare in 2007-8 that turned India from an importer to a net exporter of cotton.
But the committee clearly was not impressed.
"It has to be found out how Bt cotton became priority when the avowed goal for introduction of transgenics in agricultural crops was with a view to ensure and maintain food security," the committee has said.
While criticising the introduction of genetic engineering in agriculture without adequate regulatory mechanism and socio-economic safeguards, the committee has said it was "more than convinced" that there are "better options available" for ensuring food security.
"Most importantly, India today is not in the situation of desperation that was there before the first Green Revolution. Hence any short-cuts or desperate measures are not required to be experimented with," it has said, while recommending that "field trials (of GM crops) under any garb should be discontinued forthwith".
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