Picture for representational purpose.
There is a common misconception among public that those who protest against genetically modified (GM) crops are against technology and do not understand its benefits. But, our protests have never been against technology. We welcome genetic engineering and are well aware of its benefits in various fields especially in medicine.
Our fight is not against GM crops but a handful of corporate firms who are all set to monopolise the global seed market. By embracing GM crops from these foreign firms, India will shift from being a haven for biodiversity to a destination for genetic slavery. In the present scenario, our farmers either produce their own seeds or procure them from the nearest agricultural university or equivalent research organisation.
The perils of going for BT brinjal or other crops is that we would be importing genetically-altered seeds from a private firm and will be following the guidelines specified by the firm in raising our crop. Over a period of time, Indian farmers would not have any stock of indigenous seeds and we will be forced to depend on multi-national firms for our seed reserves. The farming practices necessary for raising such crops would totally weed out indigenous agricultural practices.
In the long run, we would be compromising the food security of our nation as the seed base and its related technology would be in the control of a handful of private firms. Our struggle has been for protecting the food sovereignty of our country.
We gladly welcome GM crops if the technology is produced by our scientists and patented by the government of India. Instead of focusing on producing good quality seeds suitable to our unique climatic and soil conditions, our scientists are embracing technology produced by private firms such as Monsanto and DuPont that together control 38% of the global seed market. We condemn that monopoly and will continue to fight against multinational firms taking over our seed market.
(As told to Pradeep Damodaran)
(Dr Ismail is a soil biologist known for his vermitech technology. He is the Managing Director of Ecoscience Research Foundation)