BJP says no to GM Food
BJP is the only major political party to even make a reference to biotechnology in its manifesto.
“GM foods will not be allowed without full scientific evaluation on the long term effects on soil production and biological impact on consumers,” stated the BJP manifesto taking a cautious stand on the controversial issue.
Other leading parties like the Congress and many regional parties have not made any reference to biotech or GM products.
India has allowed so far only one non-food GM crop, Bt cotton which has been a runaway success accounting for more than 90 per cent of all cotton grown in the country, turning India into a net exporter of cotton within a decade of its introduction. However, a Bt brinjal crop, approved by the regulator in 2009, has been withheld for commercial production on the grounds of “public safety.”
In March 2014, the biotech regulator allowed field trials of half-a-dozen GM crops but are stuck due to non-issuance of the No Objection Certificates (NOC) by state governments where the trials will take place. Interestingly, Gujarat, the state headed by BJP Prime Ministerial candidate, Mr Narendra Modi and Karnataka, a state ruled by his opponent’s Congress party, have both not given NOCs for field trials of new GM crops.
The BioAgri industry’s hopes were raised when recently Mr Modi while interacting with farmers in Maharashtra had remarked that Bt cotton immensely benefitted the farmers and such technologies should not be discarded out rightly. He had added, “We must put technology and science to use, with regulations, and add value to the produce.”
A quick analysis of major political party manifestoes by BioSpectrum indicates that “Biotech” doesn’t find favor in election manifestoes of any of the national parties. While the Indian National Congress, which is predicted to leave office after a decade of governance, in its manifesto laid emphasis on almost everything but science. Perhaps, it might have felt it won’t muster enough help in the hostile anti-incumbency wave. The Aam Aadmi Party, which is the flavor of the season in Delhi, too does not have anything to spell out. The Left Front is no different from the other formations.
Though, most of the people in private say that the election manifestos are irrelevant. Irrespective of the matter, it is very important that the right noises should be made and parties need to realize the significance of this sector. This sector needs support and encouragement for increasing manufacturing capabilities, product development and research, amidst other things like clear and succinct regulatory guidelines, import and export guidelines, and taxation benefits. There is an overwhelming unanimity that political diaspora has to understand their needs to ensure the best outcomes especially in healthcare and agriculture are provided to the citizens.
As the nation awaits for the next dispensation to take over the reins, the industry should be very vigilant and vociferous. Otherwise, we will miss the Biotech flight and bioeconomy will be in doldrums.
Download links for manifestoes.