Indian science congress

Published: Saturday 31 January 2004

The 91st Indian Science Congress held in Chandigarh from January 3-7, 2004, was quite a damp affair (see p39). But the Indian government did unveil there a Plant Genome Research Road Map, which details a six-year plan to develop new genetically modified (GM) crops which will provide better nutrition. This will stem the worry of decreasing agricultural yields. Says Asis Datta, director of the National Centre for Plant Genome Research, "At this point, really, we are looking for nutrition security. I can tell you that companies will not be interested." Under the roadmap, government scientists will by the 2010 develop other gm varieties aimed at boosting nutrition. Oilseed rape, millet, pulses and sugar cane are among the crops to be investigated.

The government has thus laid bare its belief that gm is necessary if its burgeoning population is to be fed; and like other developing countries including China, it is prepared to invest in research it considers essential.

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