Sunday, February 14, 2010

Political gene in Bt Brinjal controversy?

At last Bt Brinjal controversy has been moved into the cold storage. It is definitely a good idea to test and confirm that Bt Brinjal has no adverse side effects on human health and ecosystem. But this has to be done within a reasonable time frame. Otherwise the money and time we had already spent on developing Bio-technology in India will become a waste. India can never afford to do that.

Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, a bacteria which can produce proteins capable of killing caterpillars of pests. The genes, responsible for producing the proteins have been transplanted into the brinjal plants thereby empowering the plant to resist pest infestation. This will increase the crop productivity and reduce costs of cultivation, definitely a boon for Indian Economy in general and agriculturalists in particular. The experience of Bt cotton has helped producers of cotton in India and we must develop GM products in other segments of agriculture.

The hue and cry that we have seen in many parts of the country appears to have emanated from irrational fears fanned by anti-change and anti-science activists. Any human invention has adverse effects. Let us start from the beginning. Early Man started to eat cooked food and use boiled or heated water. This accounts for a significant proportion of the energy used globally and contributes to a sizable portion of the green house gases generated. Can we stop eating cooked food? After food, man’s need was clothes to cover his body. For production and maintenance of clothes another sizable portion of energy is used contributing to yet another sizable portion of the green house gases generated. Production and maintenance of clothes is a contributor of water pollution. Can we think of living without cooked food and clothes? Modern life demands people to move around. There arose the need for automobiles – cars, buses, trains, and aircrafts. They also consume a lot of energy and contribute to global warming. All medicines including Ayurvedic medicines have side effects.

From the time man started progressing by inventing new things, there existed a section of the society who was suffering from fear of change and who took anti-change anti-science stance. This is understandable. But I am concerned about another deceptive force that might have transplanted a political gene into the Bt Brijal controversy. The government of India, the scientific community and the public at large must be vigilant against any such vested interest playing the game and ensure that India does not lose its momentum in her all-round progress.

No comments:

Post a Comment