Dr Swapan Kumar Datta, deputy director general-Crop Sciences, ICAR (Pic Credits: ICAR)
Q: How do you look at the debate around GM crops now? Has the scenario changed in the last few years?
Dr Datta: We lost a decade. There is a negative environment in GM research. People started moving to MAS and other techniques as they were reluctant to do it due to controversies surrounding it. But the fact is that a biotech plant cannot be without Arabidopsis Thaliana. A plant biotech product has to be commercialized. Public institutes have to do better valued research than 20 years back. Improvement is required. We failed to understand actual biotech research. GM will take time and we should not be disheartened.
Q: What about the criticism on Bt Cotton? Couldn't Bt Brinjal have been a success also?
Bt cotton is a successful example. However, it was an illegal crop legalized later. Perhaps Bt crop will face the same. Bt Brinjal was almost approved but a single minister halted it. He overstepped his role and side-lined GEAC decision. It is growing well in Bangladesh now.
Q: Don't you think biodiversity is an important aspect that requires to be taken care of? Why do activists cry foul over the issue?